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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rising waters and rising fears as Boeung Kak filling recommences

Rising waters and rising fears as Boeung Kak filling recommences

Company officials say sand pumps will soon operate through the night 

SAND-PUMPING company HSC has resumed the filling of Boeung Kak lake following a weeklong halt in operations due to the annual Water Festival and serious flooding in Russey Keo district.

HSC representatives told the Post that the company had restarted work at the lake last Wednesday, and was hoping to increase the speed of the lake's reclamation, which is expected to take up to 18 months.

"We are working from dawn until one o'clock at night," said the official, adding that to speed up the work the company was planning to work 24 hours a day by the end of the month.

Local developer Shukaku Inc started pumping sand into the lake in August as the first stage in a controversial commercial and housing development that has drawn criticism from local residents and housing rights advocates.

Some worry that the 133-hectare project, which will see the lake reduced to a tenth of its current size, will worsen flooding in central Phnom Penh.

The filling was halted Tuesday last week, with City Hall claiming the work would be suspended for the duration of the Water Festival and until the floods in Russey Keo had receded.  

Filling round the clock

Boeung Kak lake villager Hok Lay, 46, said the sand operation had been proceeding through the night for the past two days, causing her wooden house on the lake to buckle under the weight of sand hitting her house's wooden supports.

"I'm afraid that day and night pumping will knock down my house. Now my house is bending," she said. "The pumping at night bothers my sleep."

Village Four representative Be Pharom said that flooding around the lakeside had receded during the halt to the filling and that he expects water levels to start creeping back up.

"When there was no pumping, the floods at Boeung Kak went down," he said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong declined to comment on the sand-pumping Monday.

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