Phnom Penh residents have reported a marked improvement in the city’s garbage collection services after the government revoked former waste management company Cintri’s exclusive contract and selected three new companies to help clean up the capital. But some say there is still room for improvement.
It has been a month and a half since the three new waste management companies, 800 Super/Global Action for Environment Awareness Public Limited, Mizuda Group Co, Ltd and Everbright, which is now partnered with Cintri, started their trash collection duties in Phnom Penh following a statement on June 30 informing residents that the city would be divided into three zones covering 14 districts, which each company being charged with keeping a different zone clean as of July 1.
Pin Manith Pisoth, a 21-year-old resident of Depot III commune in Tuol Kork district, said he has noticed that the new company, 800 Super, arrives faster than the previous one to pick up the trash around 8pm to 9pm every night. Before, he said, Cintri came to collect the garbage only once or twice a week, when the trash was already piling up in the dumpster.
‘’In my area they come and pick up the garbage seven days a week,” he said. “So as of now, there is no trash piling up in the bin. I am so happy with that. Because it is much cleaner, and the overall environment is simply good.”
Pisoth is not the only one who has seen an improvement. CamboJA interviewed eleven residents from six different districts across Phnom Penh to find out how the new companies were managing the city’s waste. Most of them applauded the new companies’ efforts to fix what they had previously seen as an unsolvable problem in the city. They said the companies are now trying to collect the trash on time, and that while the city is not perfectly clean, there was no longer garbage piled up in mountains for days before being collected.
Ren Raksa, a resident living in Por Senchey district’s Chaom Chao III commune, said that Mizuda Group, who took charge of the area, is performing well in terms of garbage collecting. She said that while Cintri used to pick up the trash only three or four times a week, and not in a punctual manner, the new company comes around almost seven days a week.
“[Mizuda Group Co, Ltd] has modern equipment for collecting garbage, which is good,” Raksa said. “And it will be better if they [Mizuda] provide more rubbish bins so that there is not so much mess along the road.”
Boeng Keng Kang governor Thim Saman told CamboJA that after city authorities selected the three companies to share waste collection service in the capital, Cintri, who covers garbage collection in his district, has been raising the quality of its own work to an acceptable level.
“There is not as much uncollected and spilled trash in the street as we saw before,” he said. “This is because the company collects it on time, not waiting until it is piling up in the dumpster.”
Saman said that while Cintri has made significant improvements, the company should upgrade its equipment to meet the level of the other new companies. He told CamboJA that he plans to talk with the head of Cintri’s cleaning and garbage collection workers in Boeng Keng Kang district in order to strengthen the garbage collection services.
Khim Sunsoda and Mow Manith, the governors of Kambol and Sen Sok districts respectively, also had good things to say about the new companies operating in their areas.
“Mizuda Group always comes to collect trash in a timely manner,” Sunsoda said. “It is not perfectly clean, but it is much better than when it was controlled by Cintri. I hope that they continue like this.”
But Duong Silen, a Cintri executive administrator, said that the company’s new duties were no challenge compared to its previous responsibilities.
“Based on our experience, collecting trash in four small districts is not a big deal for us as we used to do it in the whole city,” he said. “We have enough technical equipment, experiences, and collection workers, so there is not such a big problem for us.”
Mizuda representative Seang Samuthmeas said that it had been a bit difficult for his company at first following the handover from Cintri. But he said the company has enough of both equipment and garbage collection workers to fulfil its duty to collect trash in the city — though the company was planning to buy more equipment to further expedite its work.
“There were some challenges at the beginning as we continued our work from Cintri, but all problems have been solved,” Samuthmeas said.
He told CamboJA that Mizuda has different schedules for garbage collection depending on the area, collecting trash twice, three times or seven days a week as the situation demands. At the moment, he said, between 1,100 and 1,200 tons of garbage were being collected in their zone every single day.
Touch Kosal, the president of the Cambodia Tourism Workers’ Union Federation, said that based on what he has seen and what he has been told, the new trash management companies were doing a good job of keeping the city clean.
‘’As I travelled, the streets were cleaner than before as there were no piles of garbage left alongside [the road],” he said.
Despite these positive reviews, though, a shortage of essential equipment is reportedly still raising challenges in some areas of Phnom Penh. A senior Phnom Penh city hall official, who declined to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the media, told CamboJA that one of the new companies, 800 Super, has had to borrow a number of trucks from municipal authorities until more of their vehicles arrive in Cambodia. According to the official, that delivery was supposed to take place in July. So far, it still hasn’t come.
‘’Mizuda has enough of their own equipment, since it is a big China-based company, but 800 Super does not have enough of its own,” they said. “So they need to borrow the cars from city hall until their own cars arrive.”
A number of workers contacted by CamboJA confirmed that the company was using state-owned garbage trucks for the first few months of operations. One Russei Keo district resident, 19-year-old Pov Sotheanith, told CamboJA that 800 Super was sometimes a bit late in collecting garbage compared to when Cintri was making its rounds. But, he said, they clean it up well when they arrive.
‘’Since it is the first phase, it is simply one thing that does not go smoothly,” she said. “But I urge the company to improve its service to be better as soon as possible.”