Phnom Penh authorities are still suspending traffic on the Bailey bridge across the Tonle Sap River which connects the Chroy Changvar peninsula to Russey Keo district, as a large sand barge that overturned after crashing into the bridge supports on the night of November 20 remains stuck.

Sam Piseth, director of the municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said the sand barge had not been towed from the base of the bridge.

“In the interests of public safety, we need to temporarily suspend traffic across the bridge and under the bridge for all types of vehicles and vessels until an assessment has been carried out by engineers,” he said, noting that the damage is “not serious”.

Piseth did not disclose the identity of the barge’s owner, while City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said he had not received a detailed report on the incident from investigators.

However, according to a report by maritime experts seen by The Post on November 21, the sand ferry belonged to Ly Khy, 67, from Phnom Penh. The vessel, heavily loaded and traveling north to a sand depot in Russey Keo, was piloted by Nhok Mak, 41.

“When it arrived at the scene, there was a problem with the port engine, which caused it to drift with the water current and strike the bridge. The vessel took on a severe list and rolled onto its side. None of the crew members were injured,” said the report.

Sok Touch, president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that legally, the owner of the sand ferry must accept responsibility for any actions which caused damage or affected the public interest. He said that the names of such owners should be made public as a warning to other businesses to maintain vigilance and pay close attention to public safety.

“Although this case did not endanger human life, it has damaged public property. The owner should be prepared to pay legal penalties. The authorities should make it clear that the offender accepts responsibility,” he added.

On September 10, 2019, the same bridge was hit by an oil tanker belonging to locally-owned firm Savimex.