Phnom Penh Municipal Hall has denied plans to fill in a tributary of the Tonle Bassac River in the capital’s Chamkarmon district, claiming the river’s flow is being redirected as work begins on the construction of a new walkway.
The denial came as public suspicions were aroused after soil was seen being put into the tributary over the past few weeks.
Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng visited the site in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune on Tuesday and told a group of accompanying journalists that since he had become governor, there had never been plans to fill in lakes, canals or tributaries, rather these had been restored to reduce flooding in the capital.
“Dumping soil into the Tonle Bassac tributary comes as preparations for plans to improve the scenery, maintain the flow of water and protect the environment. These are the main things the Phnom Penh authority has tried to do,” Sreng said.
A statement from the municipal hall dated Tuesday said that the filling of land into the tributary was part of plans to build a new walkway.
“To prevent any misunderstanding from the general public, Phnom Penh municipal authority would like to highlight that the landfilling comes as part of plans to improve the Tonle Bassac riverbank."
“These include improving its appearance by making the western bank symmetrical with the eastern bank, and the building of a new sidewalk, starting from Koh Pich [Diamond Island] to the end of Chbar Ampov [Monivong] bridge,” the statement said.
“We want people to understand that we are not filling in the river. [We] have no reason to do that because a water treatment facility was constructed several months ago,” Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said on Wednesday.
The sidewalk project had been in the works for many years, with the government wanting a riverside promenade connecting the riverside in front of the Royal Palace south to the Monivong Bridge, he added.