A large portion of a road in Kandal’s Muk Kampoul district crumbled into the Mekong River on Friday afternoon in an area less than a kilometre away from a sand dredging operation, though officials yesterday said the landslide was due to natural causes. Sou Koeun, Russey Chroy commune chief, said the collapse of the portion of the road, measuring 40 metres by 20 metres, was “because of the water flow of the river”.
Sung Siv Mey, district governor, said the collapse had not affected villagers’ homes yet, and that experts inspected the site on Saturday. He claimed that a large amount of sand on the river bed on the opposite side pushed the water currents toward the affected area, causing a natural collapse. “It is an old issue,” he said, adding that riverbanks in the area had collapsed little by little due to the accumulation of sand in the river bed.
Thloeng Chamroeun, 43, whose home is about 10 metres from where the road collapsed, said, “If collapses [continue to] happen, my home and others’ must be dismantled, but we do not have any new land to live on.” Yos Monirath, spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, confirmed that the ministry had allowed Chin Ling Construction company to dredge about a kilometre away.
“The ongoing sand dredging is to make a new waterway so that it stops the collapses,” he said. However, a Mother Nature activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals, didn’t buy that reasoning. “It is just the excuses [officials] usually make,” he said.