Warning against littering at Kirirom National Park in Kampong Speu province has seemingly faltered as rubbish continues to mount, prompting provincial environmental officials to impose fines.
Om Mak Theary, provincial environment department director, said visitors to the park and the locals are leaving rubbish everywhere. To address the issue, he has sent a team to educate the public and display banners promoting environmental protection as well. If repeated attempts at education are unsuccessful, he said legal action would be taken.
“We will attempt education, not only for visitors but also vendors. We will advise them to separate solid, liquid and plastic waste. We will instruct people to use banana or lotus leaves because plastic does not decompose easily,” he said.
Hem Odom, an environmental expert, said people still do not dispose of rubbish in the proper place, even though the park has some bins in place.
“If possible, all relevant institutions should create a programme that can prick their conscience and prompt them to act more responsibly, for example on TV or in the media,” he said.
Heng Yon Kora, founder and executive director of the Community Sanitation and Recycling Organisation in Cambodia, said there have actually been a lot of educational videos but some people ignored them. Most people, he said, watch those videos as if they were watching entertainment without thinking about the educational message being conveyed.
According to Yon Kora, the reason people litter is that there is a lack of rubbish bins and slow waste collection, while the authorities have yet to enforce fines.
“I have observed that there are no monitors for fines. If there are ones to punish offenders, people would be deterred and change their habit. We can warn them once or twice first before imposing fines. We can place educational slogans in the park,” he said.
Odom agreed that strictly enforcing the law might prompt people to comply, but only when authorities are present. Littering at resorts or other public places damages the environment and pollutes the environment, affecting biodiversity and fresh air for people, he said.