More than 200 stairs built on Tbeng Meanchey Mountain in Tbeng Meanchey district’s Preah Khlaing commune of Preah Vihear province suffered water damage during the past rainy season, and provincial authorities have begun renovating the steps.
Officials recently inaugurated the project with a religious ceremony requesting a local guardian spirit to watch over the work. The ceremony was attended by senior minister Meas Sophea, head of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party national-level working group, Long Sovan, head of the provincial council, and provincial governor Prak Sovann, among others.
Provincial Department of Public Works and Transport director Sam Leangtry is heading the renovations. He said there were 1,800 stairs in total, of which 203 had been damaged by rain-induced floods, making them difficult for hikers to traverse.
He said work to rebuild the steps with iron and materials bought from China had already begun, and a budget of $140,000 has been raised for the project.
He said Sovann had led a working group to inspect the site and issued instructions to prepare a makeshift detour to facilitate people using the path and avoiding other dangers.
“We have been provided with a budget for rebuilding the Tbeng Meanchey Mountain stairs from the organisers of the Buddhist festival Kathina, with approval from senior minister Meas Sophea and governor Prak Sovann, but the funding is not yet sufficient to finish the project so authorities will continue to raise money for its completion,” Leangtry said.
Sovann declined to comment, referring questions to provincial administration chief Yong Kim Heurng who described the mountain as a site which attracts tourists because of its natural beauty, waterfalls and a pagoda. The mountain is also the traditional home of an ancient Khmer guardian spirit.
“We have seen the difficulties of residents and tourists who visit the top of this mountain so we want to push for the completion of this work before our Khmer New Year [in April]. The funding for this project does not belong to the state – we have raised it from donors,” Heurng said.
The government designated the Tbeng Meanchey Mountain as a national natural heritage site in September 2016. According a report from the Ministry of Environment, the mountain covers more than 25,000ha of land and stands to a height of more than 400m.