The government has revoked the business licence of Cintri (Cambodia) Ltd, Phnom Penh’s only waste disposal contractor, and will temporarily take over its services before putting waste disposal rights up for bidding, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday.
The move comes after numerous complaints about the company’s quality of service – with rubbish often left uncollected for days, attracting vermin, flies and disease; blocking drains; and affecting property values as well as the environment.
The decision was announced by Hun Sen, who spoke before more than 4,000 students at a graduation ceremony in the capital.
“Letting Cintri continue [the service] is impossible. However, to avoid [the impact of] the loss of the company, the state has to spend [to make up for] it.
“The state must take over the company’s [responsibilities and replace the] workers and materials,” he said, adding that the municipal administration will assume temporary control of rubbish collection.
The government will then hold a public auction, he said, adding that this time there will be more than one companycollecting rubbish in the capital.
“We need to have at least three or four companies. We will arrange for bids, which will include Cintri. Each company will be allowed to operate in only one zone,” he said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s Waste Management and Environment managing director Nuon Samnavuth told The Post last month that the Kingdom produces more than 10,000 tonnes of waste every day, or more than 3.6 million tonnes a year.
Phnom Penh alone accounts for between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of waste daily, he said.
Cintri director Tuon Sipheng and vice-director Seng Sorida declined to comment on the government’s decision.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Tuesday that following the announcement by the prime minister, the administration would hold a meeting to discuss the issue.
“We will prepare the procedure and seek partners apart from Cintri to invest in waste collection as the prime minister had instructed,” he said.
Transparency International Cambodia senior programme director Pech Pisey hailed the government’s move.
However, he said the auction has to be public and transparent to give capable companies the opportunity for administrative rights to waste disposal.
“We have to give competent companies the right to put [their names] in a closed envelope and have a commission review and assess their applications.
“This will ensure that they applied based on their capabilities and not because of links to high-ranking officials,” he said.
The Post previously reported that in 2017, Cintri employed some 1,500 workers and was equipped primarily with trucks and pushcarts to collect the mountains of trash on the streets.
The firm has been the only waste management company operating in Phnom Penh since 2002 – when it was given an exclusive 47-year contract.