Over 1,500 floating houses and fish farming cages have been dismantled and evacuated from the rivers in Phnom Penh, according to Phnom Penh municipal police spokesman San Sok Seyha.
Sok Seyha told The Post on June 16 that so far the owners of 1,537 of the 1,741 floating houses and fish farming cages in the river had voluntarily complied with the removal orders and dismantled the structures or moved them from the area.
“At this time, our police forces have been assisting with the removal of some of the illegal constructions, boats, floating houses and fish farming cages as advised by the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration,” he said.
He added that the constructions were located in five districts along the river – 82 floating houses and 179 fish farming cages were dismantled in Prek Pnov; 145 of 201 floating houses were pulled down in Chroy Changvar while 85 of the 129 fish farming cages there were removed; 366 floating houses and fish farming cages were dismantled or removed from Russey Keo; and in Chbar Ampov, 210 of the 249 floating houses are now gone along with 247 of 293 fish farming cages.
“At this time, police forces have been continuing to cooperate with those from the five district administrations to keep a close eye on things and follow legal procedures,” Sok Seyha said.
Authorities of Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district and Prey Veng province’s Peam Chor district told The Post on June 16 that more than 150 floating houses and fish farming cages owned by Vietnamese settlers had moved from the waters in Phnom Penh and are now parked near Khpok Ateav Island, about 20km from the border with Vietnam.
Peam Chor district police chief Chea Heng told The Post that 15 floating houses and fish farming cages from the river in Phnom Penh had moved to the river in the district. The settlers have been trying to dock them there, but they were prevented from doing so by the district police.
“Our forces have been moving the Vietnamese settlers with floating houses and fish farm cages towards Vietnam,” he said.
Loeuk Dek district governor Chab Chanvichea also told The Post that Phnom Penh municipal authorities required them to remove the houses and cages from the river to reduce navigation jams and improve water quality and now some of these structures were attempting to dock in Kandal, closest to the capital.
“On the orders and instructions of the Kandal Provincial Administration, we do not allow them to dock for whatever reasons. So, they have to leave our waters,” he said.
Sem Chi, head of the Khmer Vietnamese Association in Cambodia, told The Post that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vietnamese government announced the temporary closure of the borders so they could not travel back to Vietnam by land or water.
He said his association and officials of the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia have been coordinating with the Cambodian authorities to ask for sympathy and compassion for the Vietnamese-Cambodian people with the hope that they will allow them to temporarily dock for now pending the Covid-19 situation improving, at which time they will be allowed to go back to Vietnam.
“At this time, we’ve received the news that nearly 300 Vietnamese-Cambodian people living in the floating houses have moved from the capital to the Khpok Ateav Island of Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district, only 15km from Vietnam. However, they still cannot enter Vietnam,” he said.
Chi said the association requested that the Cambodian authorities, especially the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration, help provide them with food and some makeshift accommodations until the borders are opened.