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Enough of this garbage, send in the army

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Garbage piled on a road in the capital. KT/Siv Channa

The garbage situation in the city has gotten out of control and efforts to tackle the wages and compensation issues with garbage collectors has also gone out of control, just like the mounts of garbage, the collectors left all over the city and now, floating all over the city, making the mere flash floods even worse.

Enough is enough. City Hall has taken the garbage matter lightly. Its inability to strike a quick but fair and equitable deal, especially in this worsening weather, speaks volumes of inapt bureaucracy, inability to think or react quickly, even after initial flash floods led to garbage floating on many of the city’s streets, and maybe, even incompetency somewhere along the decision making process.

Although City Hall and the striking workers apparently struck a deal and reportedly resumed collecting the garbage from 4pm to 9pm yesterday, if reports coming in are proven to be accurate, it would take days if not weeks to clear the mounts of garbage, most of which have now become floating heaps of garbage and plastic.

To this, we say, send in the army’s engineering unit with the front loaders, back hoes and excavators, loaded on low loaders to the worst areas, along with military trucks to clear and cart away this garbage.

It is understandable that many may criticise by saying this is a radical or farfetched call, given the fact that the army will also be called on to undertake rescue works in
the worsening nationwide flood situation.

However, clearing of the garbage by the army engineering unit in the city should not deplete the unit’s capability to handle bailey bridges where needed, construction of emergency dykes and sand bag dams or earthen bunds to protect strategic areas from floods.

The ugly side of the city. Khmer Times

The garbage in the city had made the floods in the city worse and that is why the army is needed, irrespective of whether the striking workers return in full force or in whatever numbers.

Better still, work together with our army to clear the garbage mess which the striking workers created with the help of pencil pushing civil servants who could not anticipate the extent of damage the heaps of garbage could do, since this won’t be the first time this has happened.

In future, if garbage collectors went on strike at their whims and fancies, irrespective of whether it is warranted and justified or not, send in the army while negotiations are going on. It is shameful to publicise Cambodia as the Kingdom of Wonder when the city is crippled by flash floods and mounts of garbage during the wet season.

This will also lead to the workers thinking twice as they will become redundant if the army steps in to clear the city of garbage. City hall or whoever the employers of the garbage collectors are, should also be mindful of the nature of work these workers do daily.

They risk their health, their body and the health of their family members in undertaking this task. Let us not demean them because of their work. Let us applaud them for keeping the city clean and in so doing, let the authorities, the employers of these workers and the people at large, treat them as human beings. Give them the dignity they deserve and not treat them like garbage, just because they are garbage collectors.

They are humans too. They have proven what they can do when they are trodden upon.

As for city hall and other authorities involved with flood mitigation, we are sure they are fully aware of the millions spent on flood mitigation, including drainage works, pumping stations, canals
and others. Yet, the floods keep occurring in the same places for years and years.

It is time to wake up and attend​to these situations and the ever​worsening flash floods and seasonal​flooding problems. Some of the​causes of these floods are walls built​along roads as fences, preventing​water from freely flowing like it​used to, rice fields which could store​and absorb water being converted​into development land or industrial​zones, natural reservoirs and lakes​being filled up for more​developments and so forth. The list​can go on and on.

All of the above are necessary as land cannot be expanded unless it is reclaimed. However, proper planning in terms of drainage and irrigation could do wonders. How is Cambodia going to attract investors when National Road Number 4 is flooded right in front of the capital’s premier special economic zone, and intermittently flooded along up to five stretches from the city up to the 45th kilometer road marker?

This is not a new phenomenon but a recurring one. While Prime Minister Hun Sen keeps taking about reforms, some of his downline officials are not thinking along the same wave length and react only when the premier says so.

To this, we say, enough of the garbage, let us clear the garbage.

 

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