The Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Environment on Thursday warned it would start imposing fines on residents who fail to dispose of rubbish properly after a campaign to raise public awareness about the law and the environment ends.
Municipal Department of Environment director Keat Raingsey did not provide a timeframe for law enforcement, saying only that the department’s working group would continue to educate the public about proper disposal before taking further action.
“Our working group is collaborating with local authorities across Phnom Penh to educate residents from door to door, in downtown and at markets, about proper waste disposal."
“As a reminder, we also posted the ‘dispose your rubbish properly’ sticker in their area. Until now, the authorities have yet to strictly impose fines. We are giving them more time to learn about the law first,” he said.
“Previously we just made offenders sign an agreement promising not to repeat their offence. We educated and warned them we would impose fines if they failed to comply."
“Following the agreement, we noticed that they behaved well. We will start imposing fines in accordance with the law after the awareness campaign ended,” he said.
Raingsey said since the campaign started, residents have demonstrated proper waste disposal by placing their rubbish properly and on schedule as determined by authorities and the contracted rubbish collector. Only a small number of residents, he said, had continued to dispose of rubbish in a disorderly manner.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said some 2,700 tonnes of solid waste and rubbish are disposed of in the capital daily, while recycling remains at a low level.
Men Kuon, a resident living along a railway in Russey Keo district’s Kilometre 6 commune, said she welcomed the environment department’s plan to impose fines if the measure is enforced after the education campaign ended.
She said residents needed time to learn about the law on waste management and environment protection.
“I think people have not completely understood the issue of waste disposal and its impact on public health. So if fines were immediately imposed, what would happen? Only when we fully understand can we address the issue effectively,” she said.
Soeung Saran, the executive director of housing rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut which has done research on urban governance and waste management in Phnom Penh, said on Thursday that local authorities needed to step up awareness-raising campaigns as residents in some areas are not well-informed of the matter.
Saran urged the authorities to more widely publicise existing waste management laws without further delay as immediate fines would be met with strong public reaction.
“Imposing fines is an effective way to prevent rubbish from being strewn disorderly. But before putting it into practice, a widespread public-awareness campaign is vital for residents to understand the law. This does not mean we delay law enforcement indefinitely,” he said.
The government’s sub-decree on the management of rubbish and solid waste in urban areas has been promulgated since 2015, with each municipal, provincial, town and district administration given 12 months to review and modify service provision contracts with rubbish collectors and residents in areas under their jurisdiction.
Raingsey told The Post on Thursday that the department’s working group is already prepared to enforce the law and impose fines on offenders.
According to Article 40 of the sub-decree on rubbish and solid waste management in urban areas, anyone found to have disposed rubbish and solid waste outside the hours and places determined by the authorities and rubbish collectors face a fine of between 20,000 and 400,000 riel ($5 and $100).