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On flooding, patience please

A man bails water from his shop front on Sunday in Phnom Penh following heavy rains that inundated many neighbourhoods in the capital
A man bails water from his shop front on Sunday in Phnom Penh following heavy rains that inundated many neighbourhoods in the capital. Hong Menea

On flooding, patience please

After a prolonged downpour early yesterday morning left much of Phnom Penh under water and the overtaxed drainage system struggling to accommodate the deluge, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged city residents to be patient.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony in the capital, the premier yesterday promised to address the city’s clogged sewers, especially in neighbourhoods that continued to be mired in fetid wastewater hours after the storm had passed.

“Rain yesterday caused flooding of 70 to 80 millimeters, even a larger sewage [system] still could not solve the problem,” he said. “We are now drawing water out.… People, please understand.”

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the municipal government was working hard to relieve the flooded areas, but blamed climate change for leaving officials little time to prepare for storms.

“We cannot predict how many years it will take to stop this problem … because the rain is difficult to manage,” Dimanche said.

Dissatisfied with the city’s efforts, 50 residents from Boeung Kak lined up outside City Hall yesterday to demand someone address the swamp overtaking their houses.

“The authorities do not care at all. They not only leave the sewage systems clogged, but they also fill in the lakes so that seven villages in the Boueng Kak area sink beneath the flood,” said Song Srey Leap.

Expecting the heavy rains to continue for the next seven days, City Hall said all pumping stations are on alert to ensure against overflow.

But Olympic Stadium architect Vann Molyvann warned that the government will have to do more if the seasonal rains are ever to be prevented from turning neighbourhoods into waist-deep ponds.

“If we want to solve the problem, all responsible parties have to use the budget to properly restore the [drainage] infrastructure.”

According to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, the annual wet season rains will continue from now until the beginning of November.

“We are not worried about the rain. If there is any irregularity, the ministry will inform the people,” said ministry spokesman Chan Yutha.

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