The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and local authorities in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district seized 10 unlicensed sand-dredging barges after about 100 villagers burned tyres in protest of the operation, officials said.
Ros Sopheak, deputy governor of Chbar Ampov district, and Chea Sokny, a deputy cabinet member at the ministry, led the seizure of vessels, which had set off fears that the dredging could cause riverbank collapses.
“In fact, they have a licence to dredge sand in Kandal’s Lvea Em district, but they came to dredge illegally in [Chbar Ampov],” Sokny said.
Yem Simon, chief of Chbar Ampov’s Veal Spov commune, said the boats had been warned off before and that the area had already seen “some banks collapsing”, but that it had not yet directly affected villagers
Veal Spov resident Soun Chan, 35, said fears of bank collapse were exacerbated by the rainy season, and that villagers “chose to burn tyres because we thought that the authorities would know about it and take action”.