PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): The Ministry of Tourism and two NGOs – Everwave and River and Ocean Cleanup – plan to launch a campaign to clean up the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers in Phnom Penh by collecting rubbish from the water and along the river banks. The campaign is slated to begin in March and run until June, in support of the clean city movement.
Tourism minister Thong Khon met the leaders of the two organisations on March 14 to discuss the campaign, which will incorporate the use of a new German technology to remove waste. The machine, called Moringa by Landmarken, has the capacity to collect up to 20 tonnes of rubbish from the water each day.
Clemens Nepomuk Feigl, head and co-founder of Everwave, said the campaign will also use CollectiX rubbish boats to remove waste from the water and along the riverbanks. The collected rubbish will be disposed of in landfill sites in Phnom Penh organised by Everwave and River and Ocean Cleanup. Non-recyclable waste will be sent to Chip Mong Ecocycle for conversion into energy in cement factories.
Khon welcomed the campaign, saying that cleaning up the waterways was a worthy goal for Cambodia. It would also be an advantage in the Cambodian Clean City Competition.
“The competition was established in 2011, and has gained support as a symbol of the nation’s development. Previously, most waste management focused on dry land. But now, in collaboration with Everwave and River and Ocean Cleanup, will expand this to the rubbish in our rivers. This is not only a dream come true in terms of protecting the environment, but symbolises the expansion of our waste management ambitions,” he said.
He called on the teams to broaden their river clean-up mission beyond Phnom Penh, suggesting that they also focus on waterways that attract a lot of tourists – like the floating villages of Siem Reap, or perhaps other provinces that were close to the ocean. In this way, they would attract more domestic and international tourists, who often travel in boats for pleasure.
Kol Vathana, deputy secretary-general of the National Mekong Committee, supported the campaign because preserving the environment in the rivers was a noble task. In addition, he hoped the activity would instil the importance of caring for the Kingdom’s waterways into the whole of society.
“This campaign is similar to the tree planting ceremonies and national fishery days we hold, because it contributes to the education of the public and shows how crucial protecting our environment is.
“First, we help keep the nation clean and secondly, we indirectly educate the public. When they see the government removing trash, the idea that they should be more careful of disposing of it will definitely occur to them,” he told The Post on March 15.
Vathana added that when the rivers are clean, it contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources.