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Dredging resumes on Tatai in Koh Kong

A barge filled with sand travels along a river in Koh Kong province earlier this year.
A barge filled with sand travels along a river in Koh Kong province earlier this year. Phal Choeun

Dredging resumes on Tatai in Koh Kong

Sand dredging in several areas of Koh Kong province has resumed following protests against the controversial practice earlier this year, local residents and an advocacy group have said.

Machinery and sand dredging barges have been sighted regularly in the province’s Koh Kong district since last month, some operated by men dressed in military uniforms, local fisherman Phin Sophany, 35, said.

The dredging is being carried out on the Tatai River in the Trapaing Roung area and at Trangaol Island, according to Sophany and other locals.

“The sand dredging is happening at the places we are fishing, and we cannot catch fish anymore because it is so noisy and makes the water even deeper,” he said.

Locals also reported seeing two soldiers from a local brigade working with the companies, which could not be identified.

Dredging licences for the area have previously been issued to two companies, Direct Access Co Ltd and International Rainbow Co Ltd.

Phal Chamroeun of the Community Legal Education Center said the brief lull in dredging operations on the back of community protests had ended.

“There has been no intervention from the authorities. They want to keep sand dredging a secret,” he said.

Pich Siyun, director of the Koh Kong department of mines and energy, could not be reached, and provincial hall administration director Ouch Touch said he was not aware of a resumption of dredging.

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