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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t not to blame for capital floods, PM says

A man drives his motorcycle along a flooded road in central Phnom Penh last week after heavy rains hit the capital.
A man drives his motorcycle along a flooded road in central Phnom Penh last week after heavy rains hit the capital. Pha Lina

Gov’t not to blame for capital floods, PM says

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted online critics who had been taking the government to task over the flash flood that enveloped parts of the capital on June 8.

During a speech to students, the premier told critics not to blame the government for poor drainage, insisting that the rain on June 8 was unusually strong, and that floods happen in many cities around the world.

“One person posted in French about flooding in Phnom Penh, but didn’t post about flooding in Paris,” said Hun Sen, referring to a June 3 inundation of the French capital.

“The flood is from the water that could not flow into the drains in time,” he added.

NGOs STT and People in Need reported last month that flooding, which can occur near-daily during the rainy season, is a top concern of capital residents.

Both NGOs, along with good governance group ANSA-EAP, said that filling in natural lakes for development projects – including Boeung Kak lake, which was filled in by ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin – removed natural drains, exacerbating floods during heavy rain.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is funding a pumping station for drainage at Boeung Trabek, did not respond to questions about the cause of flooding in the city yesterday.

According to JICA materials, people in the Trabek basin currently face risk of floods of up to a metre high that can last up to seven hours. The Boeung Trabek station was 70 per cent complete as of May 24, according to City Hall.



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Don Rennie's picture

Dear David and Igor.

How ridiculous. The PM is ignorant, uneducated, and out of touch with reality. He must think students are stupid as most Cambodians never finish high school.


The flooding in Paris was a 30-year storm situation. The flooding in Phnom Penh happens routinely during heavy rains each wet season. The flooding in Phnom Penh is the top hazard seen by the urban population.

Phnom Penh sits in a flood plain. The general elevation of Phnom Penh is about 11 meters above sea level (ASL).

The flooding on June 8 will be minor when compared with a 10, 20, 50, or 100 year storm. The last 100-year storm episode happened more than 120 years ago and the water level in Phnom Penh reached approximately 11.75 meters above sea level (source: Vann Molyvann). The city became a lake.

Currently, Cambodia is experiencing extreme drought conditions. When the weather changes later this decade or maybe the next decade, the city will experience flooding that the oldest residents of Phnom Penh do not remember ever seeing.


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