Officials from the Drainage Unit of the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport are prepared to respond immediately should heavy rain cause flooding due to blocked drains and sewers.

Men Sokkheng, director of the unit, said on March 22 that officials were always ready to remove rubbish from the mouths of the sewers and pump out the water to avoid flooding.

“If rubbish causes flooding, we will go into action as soon as we are aware of the problem. We will open the manholes and remove the waste manually. This kind of problem can’t be solved by simply turning on a pump and watching it work – we need to get in and remove the blockages by hand,” he said.

Sokkheng said that during the heavy rains of the past few days, eight pumping stations were being used to prevent flooding – including the Boeung Trabek, Boeung Tompoun, Kob Srov, Toul Sampov, Toul Kork 1 and 2, and Borey 100 Knong pumping stations.

Meanchey district deputy governor Dy Rath Khemrun said on March 23 that authorities have cooperated with the public works department and waste collection firm Cintri to remove rubbish from the canal from the Stung Meanchey interchange to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.

He said the operation ran from March 17 to 23 and used one excavator to collect waste and six rubbish trucks to transport it away.

“We have transported 114 loads of rubbish in a week – that’s more than 200 tonnes. We excavated 1km of the canal. There’s now no problem of rubbish disposal there,” he said.

“The district administration’s request is that people living around the canal do not use it as a landfill. Please pack and dispose of your rubbish properly. The company will collect waste according to the schedules that we have announced to the public in all communes,” he said.

Heng Yon Kora, executive director of the Community Sanitation and Recycling Organisation, previously told The Post that for many of those living along the canal, there is no rubbish collection service, so many households continue to throw it into the canal or burn it.

“According to the people I have spoken to, they pay $1 per month for rubbish disposal via their electricity bills but receive no service. This means they throw their rubbish onto the streets or the canal. There are no public rubbish bins,” he said.

Rath Khemrun confirmed that this had occurred in the past, but that authorities had spoken to the waste collection companies responsible and now they collected rubbish from even the smallest streets.

“If a street or lane is too narrow for their trucks, they use carts or tuk-tuks to collect the rubbish. The streets in Meanchey district are noticeably cleaner,” he said.