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Anco blamed for flooding

Villagers in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district have complained that a politically connected firm owned by one of the country’s most influential businessmen has flooded their homes.

More than 90 houses spread across a 125-hectare area in Malai’s Toul Pong Ro commune were flooded over the past five days by the Anco Water Supply Company, a subsidiary of Anco Brothers Company, which is owned by tycoon Kok An, a local official has alleged.

Thou Thoukna, deputy chief of Santepheap village in Toul Pong Ro, said yesterday that Anco had completed a drainage system and reservoir that had led to locals’ homes being flooded since Friday.

“We have had five days of flooding since the company built the reservoir,” he said. “The water flowed out of their land and into our village, flooding our farmland.”

Chan Van, 34, a resident of Santepheap, said his land had been underwater for four days.

“My rice paddy was almost ready to be harvested. Now it is flooded. Our house was flooded, too,” Van said.

Roth Chea, 32, another villager, said locals were angered that their livelihoods had been damaged by Anco in order that the company could make a profit by selling drinking water from the reservoir.

“If there is a natural flood, we do not get angry. But this flood came directly from the company’s activities,” she said.

Kok An, who made his fortune in cross-border trade in the 1980s, is an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen and a ruling party senator.

In April, Anco Brothers came under fire for allegedly denying tens of thousands of people running water for more than a week after the national electricity authority cut power to its pumping station.

Em Sokha, governor of Malai district, said: “I already contacted the company to order [Anco] to drain the reservoir. But the flooding won’t go away in just one day.”

Anco representatives could not be reached yesterday.

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