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Youths urged to clean streets for upcoming Water Festival

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People sweep rubbish down an embankment into the Tonle Sap River in the early hours of the morning after the conclusion of Water Festival celebrations in Phnom Penh in 2016. POST PIX

Youths urged to clean streets for upcoming Water Festival

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday called on the Phnom Penh authorities to focus on waste issues, especially during the upcoming Water Festival.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Koh Pich, Hun Sen said the Ministry of Environment would deploy some 1,000 youth volunteers to remove rubbish during the festival.

He urged authorities to select additional volunteers from the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), Pagoda Boys Association and other youth groups to assist in rubbish collection during the Water Festival.

“We cannot depend on Cintri alone. So, we need youths to help solve the waste issue which will arise during the three-day water festival. We need to use some of our youth forces,” said Hun Sen.

Hun Sen assigned Phnom Penh municipal governor Khoung Sreng to coordinate with the ministry and other youth associations capable of collecting rubbish by splitting areas to clean the environment during the festival.

If individuals did not litter, perhaps there would not be so much rubbish in public places, Hun Sen said. However, he blamed some people for not placing rubbish into available bins after eating.

The ministry’s Facebook page said on Sunday that more than 1,000 youth volunteers from the “Creal Cambodia” project will participate in collecting rubbish throughout the areas allocated for the Water Festival celebration on November 10-12.

Quoting the ministry’s spokesman Neth Pheaktra when he addressed the Convention and Environmental Exhibition on Monday, the post said that youth volunteers who participate in the clean up should view it as a as a mission to make Cambodia clean and green.

This, Pheaktra said, will improve the people’s welfare and help to attract more tourists to Cambodia.

“All youth volunteers should put great effort into cleaning the environment. And, they should keep the environment tidy every day, every time, and everywhere.

“By doing so, Cambodia will have a clean environment and in turn, help to protect planet Earth,” said Pheaktra.

Pheaktra also said each person uses between 40 and 52 plastic bags per week in big cities and cited a report that said Cambodia produces nearly four tonnes of waste per year.

Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap city produced a huge quantity of waste, according to the report. In a day, the capital produces over 3,000 tonnes, followed by Sihanoukville with around 700 tonnes, while Siem Reap city produces around 400 tonnes.

Based on estimations, the breakdown of plastic bags collected from road cleaning in the three cities is 17.3 per cent in Phnom Penh, 20.7 per cent in Siem Reap city, and 34 per cent in Sihanoukville.

On average, the quantity of waste increases 10 per cent every year, the ministry’s Facebook said.

Cambodian Youth Network deputy president Sar Mory said youths helping to clean the environment will eventually foster a positive attitide towards keeping communities and cities looking pristine. However, people still lacked awareness of the concept of waste management.

“We also have public rubbish bins in Phnom Penh. However, the number of such bins is not enough to contain rubbish when big events are celebrated in the capital. Moreover, the waste collection company does not work regularly,” he said.

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