Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sihanoukville facing a trash crisis



Sihanoukville facing a trash crisis

A pile of trash waits for pickup in Sihanoukville. Waste collection company Cintri has said it will terminate its services in the city on September 14.
A pile of trash waits for pickup in Sihanoukville. Waste collection company Cintri has said it will terminate its services in the city on September 14. Photo supplied

Sihanoukville facing a trash crisis

Sihanoukville officials are scrambling to figure out how they will collect rubbish throughout the city – one of the top tourism destinations in the country – if waste management firm Cintri makes good on a recent threat to halt services on September 14, raising concerns that unmanaged mounds of trash could damage the local economy.

Cintri, which has provided waste-collection services in Sihanoukville since 2005, informed officials in a letter dated July 31 that it would suspend its services beginning August 15. It cited numerous problems, such as bad road conditions, profit losses and the lack of a current official contract. It later agreed to extend its services until September 14, said company manager Ith Chenda.

Chenda said Cintri faces a slew of problems in Sihanoukville. For example, he said, the dump site is at the end of about 30 kilometres of slippery, steep roads, which have caused some of their trucks to overturn.

Chenda also claimed that about 60 percent of the 10,000 customers in Sihanoukville have not paid their fees since 2005, though he was unable to provide an estimate of how much this had cost the company, or explain why the issue hadn’t been addressed before.

“If they [the customers] are happy, they will pay, [but] if they are not happy, they would not pay,” he said. “We have no power … to get the fees. It’s very complicated to collect the money from the customers.”

Cintri has 90 staff members and 22 trash collection trucks in Sihanoukville. But unless authorities are able to develop a mechanism to help Cintri collect the payments, Chenda said, it will cease operations permanently in less than 10 days.

Sihanoukville Governor Y Sokleng said the municipality had paid Cintri $30,000 for the one-month extension, and that since August 14, officials had been seeking other companies to provide trash-collection services. As of yesterday, however, no company had shown interest.

Cintri collected garbage in Sihanoukville under a memorandum of understanding with provincial authorities from 2005 to 2015. But in 2015, the Ministry of Environment issued a sub-decree to decentralise those services to the local level. Since then, Cintri has not signed a contract with municipal authorities, Chenda said.

Sokleng said officials were still waiting on the national level to provide further guidance on how to implement the 2015 changes.

He added that the municipality had prepared 50 staff members to clean the city as a backup plan, though he acknowledged they did not have adequate vehicles.

“When the rubbish mountains up, it affects tourism, the environment and investment,” he said. “We are worried.”

However, Provincial Governor Yun Min maintained negotiations with Cintri were still ongoing, despite complaints of irregular garbage collection during the rainy season.

“For the time being, the waste in the municipality does not look good, and at the same time, Cintri wants to terminate,” he said.

Thourn Sinan, president of the Cambodia Tourism Federation, said the trash woes are a “big concern”.

“There are going to be issues … affecting our tourism sectors,” he said. “We strongly recommend the Sihanoukville provincial governor to take serious action and find a good company to replace Cintri.”

Meanwhile, Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said the government’s backup plan was totally inadequate. The issue, she added, was “an extreme disappointment” given Sihanoukville’s status as a top tourist destination, and the impact could have ripple effects on the international level.

“We have always advertised our coastal areas to be one of the cleanest and the most beautiful amongst other countries, thus, if the beaches are littered with garbage, our whole country’s image will be affected very negatively,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from