Only 64 illegal constructions remain in Phnom Penh’s rivers after the recent police operations aimed at removing them.

Phnom Penh municipal police spokesman San Sok Seyha told The Post that officers have dismantled 1,600 illegal constructions on or near the river, while more than 100 owners of such structures had decided to move to areas bordering Vietnam.

“Illegal floating houses and fish farm cages in the rivers in Phnom Penh totalled 1,741. But now there are 56 floating houses and eight fish farming cages left. The remaining constructions have yet to be dismantled or moved by the municipal administration,” he said.

He renewed calls for the owners to remove their remaining constructions from the river in Phnom Penh as soon as possible to avoid damage to their property or legal consequences.

On June 23, Peam Chor district authorities in Prey Veng province and Loeuk Dek district authorities in Kandal province confirmed to The Post that more than 1,000 residents in floating houses and fish farm cages had moved from the river in Phnom Penh and headed towards Vietnam, but Vietnamese authorities had prevented them from entering.

Loeuk Dek district governor Ham Tho said the floating houses and fish farm cages along with 1,000 people had docked temporarily on the river bordering the K’am Samnar checkpoint after the Vietnamese authorities had blocked them from entering with ferries and patrol ships.

“In coordination with immigration police in that area, they were allowed to stay there temporarily, pending a decision by Vietnamese authorities on opening waterways for them to enter,” he said.

Peam Chor district governor Seng Thea said 24 fish farm cages and 66 small boats with 200 people had moved from Phnom Penh and were staying in the waters bordering Koh Roka checkpoint.

“For fear of Covid-19 infections and to maintain safety and security for local people, our authorities did not allow them to dock or set foot on solid ground,” he said.

Thea added that Vietnamese settlers had moved from Phnom Penh to go back to their homeland in Vietnam but they had been prevented by Vietnamese authorities from doing so, claiming that the Vietnamese government had imposed a temporary lockdown on the waterway to prevent Covid-19 infections.

Sim Chy, president of the Khmer-Vietnam Association in Cambodia, could not be reached for comment on June 23.

But on June 17, he told The Post that those who moved from the river in Phnom Penh to return to Vietnam could not enter the country because the Vietnamese authorities have been strengthening Covid-19 measures.

He said those who offered to pull down their constructions have to find a location on their own while respecting the conditions and laws of Cambodia because the association cannot afford to buy land for them.