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Phnom Penh city bosses call for more civic pride in rubbish-strewn capital

Bridges and overpasses are widely used as unofficial rubbish dumps by fly-tippers in Phnom Penh.
Bridges and overpasses are widely used as unofficial rubbish dumps by fly-tippers in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Phnom Penh city bosses call for more civic pride in rubbish-strewn capital

As the population increases in Phnom Penh, fly-tipping is coming increasingly under the spotlight. City bosses aim to crack down further on the problem in a bid to change people’s habits.

They’re also aiming to target illegal parking, a major problem in the city.

A number of locations in the capital are under scrutiny, with fines imposed for any tipping or parking offence. The fines range from $2.50 to a $50 maximum. Officials admit that changing public habits will take time.

They aim to take a carrot-and-stick approach to the issue that combines fines for littering with education and publicity campaigns. Phnom Penh’s city representatives want to see the public participating in promoting public order and beauty in the city by keeping it clean, even as the capital’s real estate is being developed at breakneck speed.

A 2015 inter-ministerial sub-decree, jointly signed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of the Interior, imposes fines on individuals who discard garbage and park illegally in public places. Yet enforcement has been lax. But recently, a number of areas in the city are under extra scrutiny, with city police briefed to impose the fines for littering and illegal parking.

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said authorities were focusing on cleaning up bad public habits in the areas, which he did not name. Measpheakdey added: “We have a good decree on throwing away garbage in public areas, but we have not implemented it everywhere yet. People are still throwing away garbage and parking in public places without permission.

“In relation to this city, we need to do campaigns and promotional work to educate people to stop throwing rubbish, and to pack it properly or put it into the bin.”

City bosses want people to use the bins provided at key locations around the city.
City bosses want people to use the bins provided at key locations around the city. Hong Menea

Measpheakdey said that to have a clean city with beautiful infrastructure, citizens needed to work together to maintain the urban environment. He said: “We have sorted different types of garbage and garbage collection team to clean in different locations.

“I ask the people of Phnom Penh to value the environment because the city is our home, and a symbol of their identity.”

Measpheakdey acknowledged that changing public habits can be hard work. “Even if we have a good campaign, the people do not understand and do not participate. It’s very rare to have success in this area.”

The spokesman added that part of the problem lies in enforcement. “We don’t have authorities everywhere to do the monitoring and we don’t have enough garbage bins. Essentially, the people must be responsible for the disposal of their waste in public places. For example, even though parks have garbage bins, some people still don’t use them and make their contribution to the environment.”

Measpheakdey also commented on changes to parking regulations aimed at alleviating the capital’s traffic woes. “We have participated in the implementation of education campaigns. We have also removed the on-road parking from the Freedom Park area to reduce traffic congestion and we plan to implement similar schemes in more than 11 locations in the city, of which Chbar Ampov district is one.”

Neak Chanmonyneath, a university student in Phnom Penh, told Post Property that in some public places, parking signs and banners were ripped up and thrown away, especially in front of houses and bridges.

It’s the city government’s responsibility to deal with waste management in public places such as streets and bridges. Chanmonyneath said: “I think only social promotion and good publicity can make people fearful of their actions and start to clean the city so it can have better infrastructure.”

Some city dwellers still fail to give their rubbish to garbage collectors, and instead, throw away their rubbish in public areas, making the city a dirty and uncomfortable place to be.

“I feel bad when the urban infrastructure is covered in dust and waste, because it seems like a disorderly town, so the relevant authorities should implement a plan to clean the city,” she said.

Another resident of the capital, Kalvin Hang, called for better policing of stallholders and street merchants. “Over 30 percent of the downtown area continues to be crowded with a lack of parking because sellers are on the street, and buyers park without restriction.”

He added that when an area becomes a development zone, including large houses, markets, offices, and schools, the roads need proper signage to ensure parking regulations are clear and well-understood.

A local environment official declined to comment on the rubbish issue.

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