Prime Minister addresses the problems of waste in capital

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Prime Minister Hun Sen met with the Republic of Congo’s Brazzaville mayor Christian Roger Okemba on the sidelines of the AIMF General Assembly to discuss issues of waste. Photo supplied

Prime Minister Hun Sen on a courtesy meeting with Republic of Congo’s Brazzaville mayor Christian Roger Okemba on Tuesday said that waste pollution in Phnom Penh could be attributed to the capital’s rapid development. The problems should be resolved before the development of new cities.

Okemba is also the vice-president of the Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (AIMF), an international organisation comprising of mayors from French-speaking countries.

The meeting followed the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s hosting of the 39th conference of AIMF from December 3 to 4 at Residence Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel under the theme, “AIMF Phnom Penh, 40 years next year”.

In a Facebook post, the prime minister said the capital produced some 3,000 tonnes of waste daily. Without timely collection, tonnes of waste pile up, effectively diminishing the capital’s aesthetic value and public hygiene.

To resolve the problem, the government has called for public and private sector participation to do whatever they can to convert waste to energy.

Speaking to Okemba, Hun Sen said originally, the capital had several lakes. However, they became a dumping site for wastes. There are still no proper treatment facilities or filtration systems for the wastes, he added.

He also discussed how the waste crisis had affected Cambodia’s development, noting that the lack of proper waste segregation is now causing problems in attracting investors.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Wednesday that it is currently expending efforts to observe the timely collection of waste.

As for recycling, Meas Pheakdey stressed that the work fell on the private sector that intended to invest in waste-to-energy initiatives, which involves the process of generating electricity from waste combustion.

“We will always welcome and wait for investors who truly intend to work on this initiative,” he said.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra on Tuesday said at the “Action Against Plastic Waste in Cambodia” forum that the Kingdom produces more than four million tonnes of waste a year, of which some 20 per cent is plastic.

He said Phnom Penh city dwellers used more than 10 million plastic bags a day.

“According to a study, one person in the city uses more than 2,000 plastic bags a year. For the people outside the capital, waste increases some 10 per cent annually. This is because of population growth, economic growth, lifestyle changes, and ways of packaging goods,” he said.

The executive director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) Soeung Saran declined to comment on the matter and referred reporters to an earlier report released by his organisation.

According to STT’s Phnom Penh Waste Management Report published in January, solid waste management in the city has not improved.

The poor management, it said, was mostly due to a lack of transparency, equality, accountability, responsiveness and responsibility.

On Tuesday, Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng and Paris deputy governor Patrick Klugman signed a collaborative partnership agreement on the strengthening of the capabilities of sub-national authorities in Cambodia.

The agreement aims to prepare urbanisation and land management in the capital and ensure the possibility of public access to fundamental services.