Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol has explained to his Vietnamese counterpart that the Funan Techo Canal project will help reduce flooding in five Cambodian provinces and prevent excess floodwaters from flowing into Vietnam, according to a May 24 press release from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

He said the canal will feature three sluice gates – in Kandal, Takeo and Kep provinces – which will ensure that salt water cannot infiltrate the network of fresh water.

He added that the way the canal will be constructed means that it will be easy to determine both the overall amount and the flow rate of freshwater to the sea, so avoiding any negative environmental effects, both within the Kingdom and in neighbouring countries, will be a simple task.

Chanthol, who serves as first vice-president of the CDC, offered his remarks during a May 23 meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Lee Minh Khai, on the sidelines of the 29th International Conference on the Future of Asia, held in Tokyo, Japan.

“This project will help maintain the sustainability of the environment, ecosystems and create diverse habitats of all kinds that are useful for the survival of many species of aquatic animals, plants and fish. It will also alleviate flooding in five provinces of Cambodia and prevent floodwaters from Cambodia from flowing into Vietnam,” he explained.

Chanthol cited a detailed study which showed that the current water flow from the Mekong River to the sea is about 8,000 cubic metres per second. The Bassac River has a capacity of 1,400 cubic metres per second, while the Funan Techo Canal project will use only five cubic metres of water per second, or about 0.053 percent.

He explained to Khai that the canal will be dug along the natural and ancient waterways that have been used since the ancient Kingdom of Funan, adding that Cambodia has studied the project in detail for more than two years, with the participation of 48 senior technical experts.

The deputy prime minister said that of the 48, eleven were professors of science and 37 were world-class engineers with years of experience in related fields such as hydrological analysis, canal pumping and restoration engineering, waterways construction design, and environmental impact reduction.

Earlier in April, Senate president Hun Sen addressed allegations that the canal could serve a Chinese military function. He explained that Cambodia would not allow the deployment of Chinese troops on its territory, as this would be contrary to its constitution, as well as the Kingdom’s principles of independence and sovereignty.

The 180-kilometer canal project will cost $ 1.7 billion and construction is expected to take four years.

In a May 16 speech, Hun Sen suggested that the Royal Government begin construction of the Funan Techo Canal as soon as possible.