Some 30 families in Kratie town blocked a road on Sunday, using 10 vans to prevent trucks from transporting sand in order to demand that authorities halt sand dredging in Krakor commune.
The villagers claim the sand dredging operation – taking place where a stream flows into the Mekong River in Krakor village – has led to riverbank collapses.
They also maintain the large trucks transporting the sand have caused potholes on the main road that runs through their village to Kratie town.
Bou Ret, 40, one of the protesters, claimed the dredging started about two years ago. He said several heavy trucks, as well as smaller trucks, are used to transport the sand, carrying up to 60 tonnes each.
“In the past, the collapses of riverbank never happened,” Ret said. “When the [dredging began to] take place, the riverbank started collapsing.”
Ret also claimed villagers saw the sand being transported to the Cambodia-Vietnam border, which, if true, would violate a standing ban on sand exports.
The villagers identified the owner of the sand dredging operation as Ros Chenda.
Chenda denied that his business was responsible for the riverbank collapses, but admitted that his trucks have caused road damage.
He also maintained his business was licensed by the provincial Department of Mines and Energy as well as local authorities, and insisted the sand was for domestic use.
Krakor Commune Chief Im Lada said that Chenda’s business was licensed, but added that the business’s operations were halted after Sunday’s protest.
He said Chenda had previously promised to stop using heavy trucks.