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Officials wage war on sewage

Officials wage war on sewage

A committee to ensure residents and businesses connect to Sihanoukville’s sewage treatment plant will be set up in response to a slick of dirty black waste water that surfaced off the coast of the popular tourist destination last week, a provincial official said yesterday.

Prak Visal, deputy director of the Preah Sihanouk administration office, said Preah Sihanouk governor Sboang Sarath made the order to officials from the provincial departments of tourism, environment, public works and transport and land management at a meeting yesterday.

“The tourism sector in Sihnoukville is the most important industry for the income of residents,” Prak Visal said, adding that if sewage continues flowing through tributaries and canals into the sea, it will seriously affect local livelihoods.

The roughly 70 percent of properties in town that remain unconnected to a master pipe laid to the treatment plant in 2007 will be required to pay $US3 per metre of pipe required to link them up the sewerage system, plus monthly service fees, he said.

For residents and small businesses, services fees will be fixed at $1 per month. Depending on their size, larger businesses could be charged anywhere between $50 and $100.

Mok Samrith, a villager from Sihanoukville town’s commune 4, said yesterday that the connection fee would be too expensive for poor people such as himself.

“I am a moto-taxi driver. I do not have enough to pay the connection fee,” he said. “My home is near the Prek Damnakdach canal and is about 50 metres from the master pipe.

“The authorities should not take the connection fee from poor people like me.”

The $11 million sewage treatment plant, financed by the Asian Development Bank and completed in 2006, has the capacity to treat all of Sihanoukville town provided development continues at forecasted rates, according to the ADB.

Sothea Ros, a spokeswoman for the Cambodian office of the Asian Development Bank, said by email last week that about 3,300 homes had been connected to roughly 58 kilometres of main collector pipes and reticulation pipes during construction.

But she said ultimate responsibility for connection lay with property owners because of the limited funds allocated to the project.

Prak Visal said the government committee had also been tasked with producing a statement demonstrating how they will impliment effective liquid- and substance-waste management in the future.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

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