Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hardly an engineering feat to rival Angkor Wat

Hardly an engineering feat to rival Angkor Wat

Hardly an engineering feat to rival Angkor Wat

FENCED IN. What's happening behind this big green fence that has appeared on Sisowath

Quay?

Inquiries to city hall proved fruitless; nobody wanted to talk about it. A Post reporter

who tried to speak to the work gang camped on site was pelted with rocks.

However, we found an engineer who told us that the concrete river embankment wall

is now being built for the third time - and he is certain it will collapse again.

The first effort was a rushed, cheap job for the Water Festival two years ago. It

slid into the river. The rebuild around last August failed for several reasons: the

location is subject to swirling water which erodes this section of the bank; poured

reinforced concrete piles did not go through deep mud underneath into hard ground;

seepage from city runoff undermined the concrete; and vibration from passing traffic

loosened fill. These factors combined to cause slope instability, so the second concrete

embankment collapsed like the first.

Now another repair is being carried out. A digger has ripped out the old concrete

and steel reinforcing and it is being used as fill. New reinforced piles are being

poured.

But our man says they will not hold the slope because they are too shallow. The piles

should be driven through the thick mud into hard ground. They must range from 25

metres long at the top of the slope to 12 metres near the water. He thought pile-driving

had not been done because it would annoy businesses and possibly damage buildings

along the street. It was also more expensive.

Locals believe the fence was erected to hide a construction failure that is potentially

embarrassing for the city government and contractors. Our source said hundreds of

thousands of dollars has been wasted already and the truth was being covered up.

One observer said: "This project was launched with great ceremony and an impressive

display of construction machinery, but the next day a small gang of laborers with

a concrete mixer and tent moved in. How can the proud builders of Angkor possibly

be the same people who are responsible for this money-wasting shambles?"

- by Richard Woodd and Sam Rith

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