Minister of Public Works and Transport Peng Ponea has introduced comprehensive strategies to ensure swift and efficient disaster response in light of the current rainy season’s heightened rainfall.

The minister’s announcement followed the forecast of potential flooding of the Mekong River, which poses risks to people’s lives, agriculture and infrastructural assets.

Ponea highlighted the importance of coordinating efforts across the public and transport sectors for disaster management in a directive issued on October 2. As the 2023 rainy season sees rainfall ranging from moderate to high levels, there are growing concerns about the Mekong River’s water levels impacting communities and transport networks.

He said the ministry has mandated the Secretariat for Disaster Management, General Department of Waterway and Maritime Transport and Ports, municipal-provincial transportation departments and other relevant units to equip themselves with the necessary resources for an immediate response to any impending crisis.

He emphasised the importance of collaborating with the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) to disseminate information on the situation.

“The ministry’s working group must liaise with relevant ministries, institutions and local authorities to implement disaster response and recovery operations. In case of road and bridge damage, prompt action should be taken to ensure traffic sustainability. It’s vital to deploy teams to repair such infrastructure immediately and to place traffic and safety signs in vulnerable locations to guarantee the well-being of road users,” he added.

The minister advised caution against heavy vehicles passing through flood-affected areas and underscored the importance of informing citizens, travelers and transport firms about potential hazards.

He also noted a mobilisation effort underway to repair transit systems affected by the Mekong River floods. Rehabilitation operations will be assisted by local and international organisations, following further directives from the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Governor of Battambang province Sok Lou said on October 2 that damage had been caused to many roads in his jurisdiction, especially within Battambang town.

He noted that, following Ponea’s visit to the affected areas including the flooded Ek Phnom district on October 1, the ministry had provided cold mix asphalt as an immediate measure to temporarily mend the roadways.

“In managing infrastructure impacted by the floods, we’re committed to restoring damaged roads to ensure public safety. Severely damaged roads will be reviewed for potential restorations and repairs in subsequent phases,” he said.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology issued a weather update on October 2, forecasting light to moderate rain in both northwestern and northeastern provinces, covering 40-60 per cent of the region from October 2-4.

Phnom Penh and southeast provinces bordering Vietnam and the coastal areas are predicted to see rainfall across 60-80 per cent of the area during that period.