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New Sihanoukville trash collector admits flaws

Sanitation workers clear a large pile of trash in Preah Sihanouk province, where residents have accused a new waste management company of shirking its duties.
Sanitation workers clear a large pile of trash in Preah Sihanouk province, where residents have accused a new waste management company of shirking its duties. Photo supplied

New Sihanoukville trash collector admits flaws

The owner of a garbage collection company that recently took over trash pick-up in Sihanoukville admitted shortcomings in collection efforts yesterday, while pledging to improve services, following a petition by residents calling for the company’s contract to be rescinded.

Signed and thumbprinted by 167 residents, the document calls on Prime Minister Hun Sen to replace Kampong Som Waste Management Co Ltd (KSWM), which replaced Cintri in mid-September as the growing coastal city’s garbage company.

It received a 10-year contract. The petitioners say that the service provided by KSWM is more expensive than under Cintri and has resulted in an increase in uncollected trash.

Among the signatories, night market vendor Yu Veasna told The Post that public criticism for the company has been widespread as trash has piled up for several months due to irregular collection.

“At first, this company did not have a clear collection schedule,” she said, adding that “the people throw their waste on the road, around their houses, and there was no action from the authorities or the company”.

However, she noted that in the past few weeks, collection has substantially improved.

KSWM owner Nuon Vissoth said yesterday that a lack of workers, know-how, and early logistical woes were to blame for to the company’s admittedly sub-par performance.

“At the beginning stages, there are always gaps, but I am trying to correct and improve the capacity including the technique, instruments and accelerating the speed [of collection] in downtown,” he said.

The company had seven garbage trucks when it began collection, he said, but since last month the fleet has stood at 16 – which Vissoth said would be sufficient to meet demand. Additionally, he noted the acquisition of more dumpsters and the hiring of 100 total workers.

“I received the criticism, but [the job] needs a good cooperation” between authorities, the company and the public, he said, noting that residents also needed to properly dispose of waste to ease collection.

The dry season has also temporarily eased passage on the 2-kilometre stretch of dirt road that connects National Road 4 to the dumpsite, which is about 30 kilometres out of town.

“The road from National Road 4 to the dumpsite is in very bad condition,” he said, adding that during the rainy season garbage trucks have to be towed up to the dumpsite by a larger truck.

Vissoth said that the city governor informed him that the road should be paved in April, thanks to financing provided by the Asian Development Bank.

“If the budget is late then we should find another way, and we will cooperate with the governor to make sure that come rainy season, the road condition is better,” he promised.

Reached yesterday, Sihanoukville Governor Y Sokleng, as well as several provincial-level officials, acknowledged the criticisms against KSWM, but said the public should hold off on blaming the company so quickly.

“At first, there are always criticisms, but now [the company] does well and in our town, there is no waste anymore since [the company] understands about the work,” he said.

Additional reporting by Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon