Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official shares locals’ concerns of dredging

Official shares locals’ concerns of dredging

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Equipment believed to be for sand dredging found on an island last week, where the Tatai and Areng rivers meet. Lim Kimsor/Mother Nature

Official shares locals’ concerns of dredging

The appearance of an excavator, machine parts and metal structures on islands in the Tatai River in Koh Kong province has aroused suspicions among local conservationists that a company intends to launch a sand-dredging operation in the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary – a suspicion shared by a Ministry of Mines and Energy official.

On Friday March 3, Mother Nature activist Lim Kimsor photographed metallic structures being erected on Koh Smach Island, along with large metal objects that resemble machine parts. “We just saw the machinery but no activity yet,” Kimsor said yesterday. “But we are worried about that.”

Leak Sopheap, a community leader from nearby Koh Srolav village, said that representatives of a consulting company called CES Co, Ltd visited the village to interview locals about their lives and their dependence on local fisheries.

The visitors did not say who they represented or that a new dredging project would commence. “I just saw some people come here to study and they did not tell us what’s going on,” said Sopheap.

CES could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ministry of Mines and Energy Secretary of State Meng Saktheara, meanwhile, said that while companies had expressed interest in the area, none were currently licensed to dredge there. “There were companies who had licences for sand dredging down the Tatai River”, but “operations were suspended late last year”, he said.

“One company, SCTWN [Development Co, Ltd] applied for a sand-dredging licence in one of the stream tributaries of the river close to Koh Srolav village last year,” he added, although the application was “not processed” because of a suspension of sand exports.

According to Saktheara, whose ministry reviews environmental impact assessments for dredging projects, Tatai River sand is more suitable for land reclamation than construction, meaning it would likely be slated for export to Singapore. Therefore “any dredging operation would be scrutinised”, he said.

Saktheara said he visited another island downstream, where he saw an excavator and a workers’ camp, but “could not get much information”.

Saktheara said he suspected SCTWN was preparing the venture. “They are the only company that tried to get their licence,” he said. “They hired consultants to do the study.”

“We have people on the ground to monitor any unpermitted actions,” he added SCTWN could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • LPG gas explosion injures 13 people, including foreigners, in Siem Reap

    An explosion on Wednesday at a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) car and tuk-tuk refuelling station in Siem Reap city has left 13 people, including an American and a Briton, suffering burns. The seven most severely burned, including a provincial police officer, were sent to a Thai

  • Over 100 Chinese nationals to be deported for online scam

    The Ministry of Interior is planning to deport 128 Chinese nationals after they were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in an online money extortion scam. Y Sokhy, the head of the Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, told The Post

  • More than 800 people test positive for HIV in 2018

    The National Aids Authority (NAA) said more than 800 people tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) last year, joining over 76,000 others aged between 15 and 49 in the Kingdom already infected with the virus. The spread of HIV/AIDS in the Kingdom is showing few signs of

  • Rainsy vow to return on Nov 9 dismissed as ‘political warfare’

    An announcement from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that its “acting president” Sam Rainsy would return to the Kingdom on November 9 was dismissed on Sunday as “political warfare”. The CNRP made the announcement on Friday after a permanent committee meeting chaired by