Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday announced that the government will spend an additional $170 million to tackle sewage disposal problems in Sihanoukville and stop wastewater from flowing into the sea.
On his Facebook page yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said that Preah Sihanouk province is a growing tourism attraction and about 1.9 million national and international tourists visited it, especially Sihanoukville, so far this year.
On Saturday, the Prime Minister was in the city for the groundbreaking ceremony of a road project and to consult provincial officials. He also spent some leisure time swimming in the sea.
In yesterday’s post, he noted that because of the huge influx of visitors and a growing population, Sihanoukville is dealing with increasing sewage disposal issues, especially ways to prevent it from flowing into the sea.
Mr Hun Sen said that in order to help the city, the government will spend an additional $170 million for clean water projects, noting that China has already donated $600 million for the same purpose.
He also urged city dwellers to dispose of their waste properly and not to throw it into the sea.
“Not only in Sihanoukville, but people across the country must be careful about disposing rubbish and not to throw garbage, especially plastic bags, into the sea because this will affect the environment,” Mr Hun Sen said. “For the beauty of our province, our city and our nation, we must all participate in sanitation in the country.”
Kheang Phearun, a provincial administration spokesman, yesterday said that Sihanoukville still faces the problem of sewage flowing into the sea.
He said that Land Management Minister Chea Sophara, who is also chairman of the National Committee on Coastal Area Management and Development, had previously noted that four treatment plants are under construction in the province to prevent sewage from flowing into the sea.
“The four sewage stations will play an important role in preventing sewage from flowing into the sea but some places still don’t have treatment plants and the problem persists there,” Mr Phearun said. “That is why Prime Minister Hun Sen raised his concerns and asked the provincial administration to do more.”
He noted that presently there is a sewage treatment plant in Sihanoukville’s Ou Chhoeuteal area but it was old and needs repairs.
Mr Phearun said fortunately the Prime Minister announced the additional funding and provincial officials can use this to carry out repairs.
In May, the government said it plans to spend approximately $200 million to increase the capacity of water treatment plants and organise sewage systems in Preah Sihanouk province to prevent wastewater from flowing into the sea and protect the environment.
The budgets were announced during a visit by Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth and Transport Minister Sun Chantol to water treatment plants in Sihanoukville to study ways to increase their treatment capacity.
Mr Chantol said then that with the growth of investment and strong development in the province, including increased construction of commercial and residential buildings, resorts, hotels, and factories, the amount of wastewater produced is also rising.
He said that currently, a water treatment plant has the capacity to treat only about 5,700 cubic meters per day, while up to 25,000 cubic meters of wastewater flows from locations in the province daily.
Mr Chantol noted that more attention needs to be paid towards increasing the capacity of water treatment plants in the province to 64,000 cubic meters per day and that the drainage systems also need to be improved.