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Garbage woes pile up for Cintri

Garbage woes pile up for Cintri

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has awarded a temporary injunction against garbage

collection firm Cintri Cambodia, a subsidiary of Canadian firm Cintec. The injunction

prevents Cintri from cutting the electricity supply to a city resident.

The order came after the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Cintri alleging he had

been over-charged for garbage collection services. The suit follows numerous complaints

by city residents annoyed at billing problems.

Many were also angered that Cintri added its service charge to the invoices of power

supplier Electricité du Cambodge (EDC). Under a contract endorsed by the Council

of Ministers, those customers who do not pay Cintri for garbage services could also

have their electricity supply disconnected.

The managing director of Cintri, Franco Pacetti, was caught by surprise by the mid-October

ruling. He said the plaintiff, Kong Phirun, had filed a request for a temporary injunction

without the knowledge of his company, which had been given two weeks to respond.

"Our position is the same as any other client. We're glad he has advised us,

although it was in a strange way," Pacetti said. "It is odd because most

people complain to our offices instead of filing a lawsuit."

Pacetti said he would try to get in touch with the plaintiff's attorney to find out

the reasons behind the objection.

There have been numerous complaints about Cintri since it took over collection services

on August 1. Governor Chea Sophara said the company's service delivery had not been

properly planned, it lacked experience, and people were not happy paying bills that

were incorrect.

"Since the beginning they launched the wrong bill issues to people, and that

is why people don't want to pay," he said, adding that another problem was that

in many areas the company charged fees without providing the service.

"I'm very upset about this issue, but Cintri came to apologize about the wrongdoing,

so I still support them and appeal to people to pay the fees," Sophara said.

"If people don't pay there will be corruption and we will have a dirty city.

I want them to continue doing a good job because I cannot do it."

Cintri has freely admitted problems with invoicing and software errors, but says

a team will look into all complaints. It will not cut electricity supplies until

any investigation is completed.

Pacetti said he did not understand how the court had ruled against cutting electricity

supplies as Cintri had signed a contract to that effect with EDC.

"We'll prove to the court we have a right to cut electricity," he said.

Pacetti said his company was meeting its obligations, and people had said the city

was much cleaner since Cintri took over. He admitted that a percentage of the population

had not paid its bills, but denied the company was considering pulling out of Cambodia

due to payment problems.

"Our intention is to continue," Pacetti said. "[As for] any problems

we have with invoicing, we are working closely with the city to resolve them. We

are committed to Cambodia.

"All of this stems from people not being used to receiving their invoices for

city cleaning services on electricity invoices."

In another controversy over payments earlier this month, Governor Sophara made an

announcement that Cintri had to cease charging value-added tax (VAT). Cintri was

charging VAT according to its understanding of the country's tax law, but has now

decided not to charge the tax and will credit customers for earlier payments.

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