Phnom Penh Municipal Council chairman Pa Socheatvong said traffic congestion and waste pollution are the leading issues in the capital, ahead of others raised by residents at a public forum on Tuesday.
The public forum, which was held to strengthen the government’s policies and listen to people’s views, saw the attendance of monks and nearly 600 Phnom Penh residents at the Olympic Stadium.
“People raised problems across all sectors, more so on infrastructure. In Phnom Penh, concerns about waste and public order were frequently raised. For districts outside Phnom Penh, people were more concerned about the quality of roads and drainage systems.
“But overall, traffic congestion and waste pollution were the leading concerns. Traffic management is complicated so we’re thinking of measures we can take to tackle this.
“It will encompass assessing road management and holding discussions. Otherwise, it would be difficult to avoid congestion on the streets of Phnom Penh,” he said.
As for the waste crisis, Socheatvong said the government had already taken the first step to solving it by ending its contract with garbage contractor Cintri and adopting a new system.
Meanwhile, 40 residents called for improvements to one-window service offices to speed up the provision of tax and real estate services.
Such public forums, Socheatvong said, were organised to glean public opinion and concerns. After gathering them, the municipal council will draw up plans for the municipal governor to address. The bigger problems will be put into three-year development plans, he said.
“Authorities have to communicate with the people in order to make them understand and work with us. Whether it’s about waste or whatever . . . if the people refuse to participate and leave it all to the government then the plans will not succeed.
“This is a new initiative. We will try to build a stronger rapport with the people so that we can provide them with better services,” he said.
Nonprofit Advocacy and Policy Institute (API) director Lam Socheat lauded the council’s approach and said it should find problems outside of its action plans that require immediate attention.
The council could also learn how far local authorities have implemented the national action plans.
“But we are not sure if they have a systematic and transparent solution mechanism, and whether the solutions effectively respond to the people’s needs.
“Different authorities at the sub-national level go down to the community to hear the people’s concerns, but they address the problems in different ways,” said Socheat.
In addition, he said the government had started establishing district ombudsman offices to receive people’s complaints regarding government services, and this would help improve matters.
“This is a new idea that can solve some problems in the capital. But as it is new, people need to understand it first before it can be effective,” he said.