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Gov’t not to blame for capital floods, PM says

A man drives his motorcycle along a flooded road in central Phnom Penh last week after heavy rains hit the capital.
A man drives his motorcycle along a flooded road in central Phnom Penh last week after heavy rains hit the capital. Pha Lina

Gov’t not to blame for capital floods, PM says

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted online critics who had been taking the government to task over the flash flood that enveloped parts of the capital on June 8.

During a speech to students, the premier told critics not to blame the government for poor drainage, insisting that the rain on June 8 was unusually strong, and that floods happen in many cities around the world.

“One person posted in French about flooding in Phnom Penh, but didn’t post about flooding in Paris,” said Hun Sen, referring to a June 3 inundation of the French capital.

“The flood is from the water that could not flow into the drains in time,” he added.

NGOs STT and People in Need reported last month that flooding, which can occur near-daily during the rainy season, is a top concern of capital residents.

Both NGOs, along with good governance group ANSA-EAP, said that filling in natural lakes for development projects – including Boeung Kak lake, which was filled in by ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin – removed natural drains, exacerbating floods during heavy rain.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is funding a pumping station for drainage at Boeung Trabek, did not respond to questions about the cause of flooding in the city yesterday.

According to JICA materials, people in the Trabek basin currently face risk of floods of up to a metre high that can last up to seven hours. The Boeung Trabek station was 70 per cent complete as of May 24, according to City Hall.

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