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Flooded-out families ask for help

FAMILIES in Srah Chak commune’s Village 3 say their lives have not been the same ever since a developer began filling in Boeung Kak lake to make way for a controversial real estate project.

The families aren’t among the roughly 4,000 expected to lose their homes if or when the development – the largest real estate project in the city – is completed.

But villagers say they now have to deal with intolerable flooding because of the project. Their homes, built on stilts over the sandy, southern edge of Boeung Kak lake, never used to flood even during the rainy season. Now it takes only one heavy rainstorm for some homes in the village to be flooded with murky runoff.

Villagers say they have been in an ongoing battle with City Hall to find a solution to the problem.

“We had asked the authorities, including City Hall, to make drainage to release the water from our village, but they told us they will make an effort to do it soon,” said Rath Him. “Maybe they will do it after we all die or relocate from our homes.”

On Tuesday, Rath Him’s neighbour, Biv Thuong, was electrocuted while attempting to make repairs on a home while standing in knee-high floodwater.

Earlier this month, at least 20 families left their homes and sought refuge in rental housing, fleeing floodwater that had made their lives difficult, the families said at the time. At least 15 have still not returned to their homes.

But local officials have repeatedly said the onus is on the developer – Shukaku Inc, a company headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin – to solve the problem. Sok Penh Vuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, and Kep Chuktema, the governor of Phnom Penh, both said they were too busy to comment on the issue yesterday.

Representatives from Shukaku could not be reached for comment.

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