Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Plans to excavate in capital dug up

Plans to excavate in capital dug up

Soil digging continued yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district despite a 2005 government ban on the practice.
Soil digging continued yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district despite a 2005 government ban on the practice. Hong Menea

Plans to excavate in capital dug up

A large-scale digging project is taking place in the capital in seeming direct contradiction of a longstanding government ban on the practice, a letter obtained by The Post and first-hand observation by reporters suggests.

In the letter dated February 17, Phnom Penh City Governor Pa Socheatvong informs Por Sen Chey district authorities that the municipality has granted permission to a woman named Kem Sotheary to remove soil from an area of Prey Roieng village. The approval comes after a February 2 request by Sotheary for permission to sell and deliver soil.

Sotheary was one of two people swept up in a Ministry of Mines and Energy crackdown last September after she was seen illegally digging in Por Sen Chey district.

The incident prompted Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem at the time to ask Socheatvong to stop issuing licences for businesses to dig in the city.

The government had already officially banned digging for the purposes of selling soil in the capital in 2005.

Phloeung Chheh Roteh commune chief Korng Rom yesterday said the area that is to be filled is currently a rice field but maintained the digging hadn’t started yet. He added that the land where the soil will be taken from belongs to Sotheary.

“The place where they dig the soil is very far from the village,” he added. “It’s [near] National Road 3 at the edge of the village.”

But Post reporters were yesterday able to locate two huge open pits approximately two-storeys deep near National Road 3. In one of them, an excavator was at work digging. There were several other excavators and pieces of machinery sitting near the open pits, but no one could identify the person or company for whom they were working.

Villagers said the digging had been going on for two or three years. One woman, who declined to give her name, said the digging had temporarily stopped before resuming.

“They stopped digging for one year and started again around July,” the woman said. Villagers said they were concerned about children and cattle falling into the pits.

Chhe Lidin, spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the ban on digging in the municipality remains in effect and he knew of no exceptions being made.

“We have not received any information from the Phnom Penh municipality on this digging case,” he said. “Through our hotline, we did, however, receive information about people bringing equipment into areas where there had been digging activities before.”

Lidin said the ministry will send an inspection team to “enforce the law accordingly”. Phnom Penh spokesman Mep Measpheadkey referred questions to fellow spokesman Mean Chanyada. Chanyada said he had not seen the February 17 letter.

“By principle, we don’t allow digging and delivery of soil,” he said, adding that officials only approve such practice if they deem the development project as “very necessary”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement