Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - De-mining drive rolls out to Cambodia’s waterways

De-mining drive rolls out to Cambodia’s waterways

De-mining drive rolls out to Cambodia’s waterways

120911_04

A German mine clearance specialist practices mine clearance in the Baltic Sea. CMAC plans to expand its operations into Cambodia’s rivers and lakes which may contain large amounts of unexploded ordnance. Photograph: Reuters

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) is planning on expanding its operations into the country’s rivers and lakes, where officials say vast caches of unexploded ordnance and munitions are left over from fighting between the Khmer Rouge and the Lon Nol regime in the 1970s.

Sitting there for decades, the weapons of war have killed fishermen and obstructed construction projects. Only last month, an explosion disrupted the pouring of concrete for a bridge near Kandal province.

“This is quite important. We provide safety for our people, and safety for national and international-related security,” CMAC director general Heng Ratana said. “And this capacity is also important for supporting the reconstruction of Cambodia, like building bridges. We need to provide the safety to keep that kind of construction as well.”

Contingent on expected funding from the US State Department, CMAC will train 40 of its staffers on how to scan riverbeds and clear unexploded ordnances, a technique that involves sonar technology and diving skills. Though a handful of CMAC personnel are equipped to carry out the clearances, the number of submerged bombs means more manpower is needed.

“We believe that there are still a lot of them,” said Ratana, who hopes to start the training “as soon as possible”, though flooding could delay it until early next year.

The caches are mostly along parts of the Mekong river in Kampong Chhnang and Kandal provinces, said CMAC’s public information office, Sam Socheath. After Lon Nol seized power in the 1970 coup, Socheath said, the Khmer Rouge harassed his forces with attacks that involved the sinking of Navy vessels.

Along with leftover bombardments that landed in bodies of water, unexploded ordnances went down with the ships.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Freeman at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman