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Development blamed for floods

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Residents say the filling in of Phnom Penh’s drainage lakes is putting the city underwater

Photo by: Heng chivoan

A woman pulls a cart with her children past a flooded area.

PHNOM Penh residents and local officials have lashed out at large-scale development companies, saying that the filling in of city overflow ponds and lakes is causing widespread flooding throughout the city.

"I strongly believe that Phnom Penh city will be ruined if construction companies do not stop putting landfill into the [holding ponds] when they develop new buildings," Tin Prasoeur, Phnom Penh's  traffic police chief, said Sunday.

People  living in high development areas such as Russei Keo district, Phnom Penh Thmey, Toektla, Tuol Sanke, Russei Keo, Kilometre No 6, and Chriang Chamres, say that unusual flooding patterns have been triggered by local development sites, with authorities turning a blind eye to complaints.

"My house always floods between October and December, but this year it flooded from the middle of August until now," said Mau Yan, from Kilometre No 6 commune.

In 2005, City Hall prohibited construction companies from filling in overflow ponds and canals for construction, but companies complained.

"We need people and businesses to join together in protecting our city from floods," Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said at the time, calling on national and international businesses, especially big  players  like CamKo City Co Ltd and Grand Phnom Penh Co Ltd, to support the construction of a new dam in Kobsrov.

But Russey Keo district Governor Kliang Huot told the Post Sunday that the floods did not come from development, but rather from water flowing down from Kampong Speu and Kandal provinces.

New dam in Kobsrov?

Kuoch Tieng Veng, director of the Grand Phnom Penh Co, told the Post Monday that the government had agreed to let the company fill in areas to construct buildings, international schools and golf courses.

He added that "despite being faced with the financial crisis, my company will try to support the project, since they have invested more than US$440 million in the city".

Kuoch Tieng Veng said that City Hall should send the dam project to the national government or seek help from the ADB, World Bank, JICA or IMF,  which could better finance the project than citizens or investors.

Kheng Ser, of CamKo City's project management team, told the Post on Monday that his company will contribute to a dam, but only a small amount.

"We will help City Hall's proposal, but not too much," Kheng Ser said.

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