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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Shukaku’s drain plan delayed

Drainage pipes sit alongside a road near Shukaku Inc’s Boeung Kak lake
Drainage pipes sit alongside a road near Shukaku Inc’s Boeung Kak lake development site in Phnom Penh yesterday as the company awaits permission from the government to begin the drainage project. Heng Chivoan

Shukaku’s drain plan delayed

Developer Shukaku Inc almost certainly won’t begin planned drainage work at its Boeung Kak site this month because the government has yet to approve its plans, a company representative said yesterday.

Shukaku said on December 2 that it would break ground on a drainage system and corporate office before the year’s end.

But formal permission has not yet been obtained after City Hall sent back Shukaku’s building plans, insisting on “minor” changes.

“We were hoping to start this month,” said Amu Pillay, Shukaku’s head of corporate communications and public relations. “We can only start when we get official approval from the government agencies.”

Shukaku had resubmitted plans with the requested changes made, Pillay said.

The company’s efforts to push forward with development at Boeung Kak – from where thousands have been evicted since 2008 – follow the flooding of villagers’ houses to the east of the site during the recent rainy season.

Seven of them were jailed for one year last month while protesting City Hall’s lack of response to the flooding.

On December 10, the Post published details of a leaked report from Shukaku in which it warned that a severe rainstorm could result in the deaths of local residents because drainage pipes City Hall had installed on the eastern side of Boeung Kak were too small.

“Loss of life and property could occur if a significant storm occurs in the next few years,” the report says. “[T]he finished system will not have sufficient capacity to handle a 5-year storm episode.”

But during a site tour yesterday, Pillay distanced Shukaku from that report, saying the summary from which many of the quotes were drawn was “someone’s opinion”.

“It’s exaggerated in the sense any significant storm can cause loss of life and property, but we didn’t blame City Hall for this,” she said.

Shukaku, she added, was instead focusing on the “positives” that the early stages of its satellite city development would bring.

“We are doing our very best to ensure the drainage will reduce the flooding,” Pillay said. “We want to see this flooding resolved . . . This drainage system will do what it is supposed to do, which is reduce the flooding situation.”

Giant pipes sat at the site yesterday. Once approved, initial drainage work will begin at the southern end, connecting to Russian Boulevard opposite the Peace Palace.

North of that, a busy road, paid for and built by the company, slices through the concession and provides an alternative route for commuters.

Ong&Ong in Singapore acted as a consultant on the master plan, while Philippine company JOM was involved in the road and drainage design, Pillay said.

In written responses to earlier questions, Shukaku said yesterday that “every aspect of reducing floods and easing the plight of the villagers has been taken into consideration”.

But Shukaku has not guaranteed improvement to the eastern villages, which “already have their own drainage systems that were installed by the government”.

“Our system will collect water within our land and we have a catchment system to avoid overflow outside of our area,” Shukaku said. “The villages [to the] south, southeast and southwest will see a significant reduction in floods.”

Pillay was unaware whether City Hall had changed anything since Shukaku’s leaked report was made known to officials.

Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche declined to comment yesterday, as he was preparing to board a flight.

Bov Sorphea, Boeung Kak villager representative, accused City Hall of “corruption” and of building a “low-quality drainage system to a poor standard” for villagers on the east side.

“We demand the municipal authorities and the company make a new drainage system,” she said.

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