Japanese experts are studying where to build a new pumping station in the capital, while another station is being constructed in Russey Keo district to add to the existing 14 stations to relieve flooding in some areas of Phnom Penh.

Men Sok Ken, head of the drainage and pumping unit under the municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said the 14 pumping stations currently in operation are at Boeung Trabek, Boeung Tumpun, Loupram, 100 Borey, Toul Sampov, Kob Srov, Svay Pak, Teuk Preah Ponlea, Toul Kork I, Toul Kork II and four more stations in front of the Royal Palace and Preah Komlong.

Sok Ken told The Post that Japanese experts are also studying where to build pumping stations in new areas that are prone to flooding.

“At [Russey Keo], we are starting construction and we just held the groundbreaking ceremony last month and they are now working on the foundation. Japanese experts are also studying areas such as south of the capital, around the special economic zone. We are studying where to add the pumping stations because some areas are still seriously flooded,” he said.

According to a study by the public works ministry, Phnom Penh is a low-lying area surrounded by dams and threatened by three flooding sources: Rain, the Mekong River and the Stung Prek Tnaot River.

Sok Ken said that if Phnom Penh has more pumping stations, it will help reduce flooding, but the participation of the public in the proper storage of waste and the maintenance of drainage systems in each home is more important to ensuring that the areas where people live do not flood.

“The station won’t solve the problem completely unless there is participation by Phnom Penh residents. We’re trying to increase the pumping capacity, but people must be involved in maintaining the sewers and canal system. We just ask that they take care with how their garbage and discarded items are stored, which will reduce the percentage of clogged drains and flooding,” he said.

In 1990, Phnom Penh had 26 lakes, 16 of which have been completely filled-in since then while the other 10 lakes have been partially filled-in, according to a report by the NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) in 2019.

Heng Yon Kora, executive director of the Community Sanitation and Recycling Organisation, praised the plan to establish more pumping stations. However, he said the problem of flooding in Phnom Penh is still happening because litter continues to increase and many natural lakes that helped store water in Phnom Penh have been lost.

“If they build a canal or install pumps and do not take into account the solid waste, then the waste and plastic waste can get into the pump and it won’t work and it can damage the machines. And the draining from the city to the outside is a good thing. But now around Phnom Penh, the lakes are all filled and I do not know where it would drain,” he said.

Yon Kora said the solution is to use a decentralised waste management system which gives the local authorities the ability to manage the waste and local people have an obligation to participate in this work.

“With the discharge of sewage from the city, all box culverts are lower than the roads and people’s houses. So the culverts are full of plastic bottles and other plastic, where the point of pumping by the machine will still be clogged. The garbage collection system is not yet collecting waste on time and causing the rubbish to flow in and these are things that we must consider,” he said.