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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Poipet water dispute settled

Land Management Minister Chea Sophara, seen speaking at an event last month, intervened in a land dispute involving a ruling party senator in Poipet during a visit on Wednesday.
Land Management Minister Chea Sophara, seen speaking at an event last month, intervened in a land dispute involving a ruling party senator in Poipet during a visit on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Poipet water dispute settled

A utility company owned by a ruling party senator yesterday agreed to reopen waterways for villagers facing shortages in Poipet town, following orders from Minister for Land Management Chea Sophara.

Farmers living near the Khmer Rouge-era Ou’khaidorn dam in Nimit commune in Banteay Meanchey province, had been embroiled in a dispute with Anco, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Kok An, for the past six years.

Chhum Hy, 56, said his rice yield had been consistently low over the last six years, claiming the clean water company did not open dam gates in dry season, leaving his crops dry, but instead opened them in the wet season, flooding his rice paddies.

“Since the company started the clean water development at Ou’khaidorn dam, we, the farmers, sold our land to the casino company to invest money in other careers such as being a motodop, and opening clothes shops at Rong Kleu market in Thailand, or migrating to work in Thailand,” Hy said.

Sophara inspected the area and ordered the company to open the gates in dry season and close them in the wet season, and also to dig up a section of the Ou’promden canal – which the company had filled in with soil – which connects to the dam, according to Banteay Meanchey Provincial Director of Land Management Prak Poly.

Provincial Governor Suon Bovor said Anco, which could not be reached for comment yesterday, had already opened the Ou’khaidorn dam gates, allowing water to flow to farmland. Bovor said the filled-in canal would not be dug out until January or February next year, with Anco saying to do so in wet season would flood some villagers’ homes.

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