A team from Kandal Provincial Administration built a safety fence to block public access to the bank of the Prek Tnaot canal in Takhmao commune and town, following a substantial collapse on May 9.

Kruy Malen, chief of the provincial hall’s administration, said on May 10 that a downpour had caused the canal bank to collapse, and authorities were inspecting the site and assessing the damage. Before the assessment could be carried out – to prevent additional damage and to avoid any risk to the public – a 210m safety fence was erected.

He said a depot which sells landfill and sand was also told to temporally halt dredging, as their business was next to the site of the damage. Authorities made it clear that the depot was not responsible for the collapse.

“The canal receives water from two sources: Kampong Speu [province] and Boeung Cheung Ek – which flows to Prek Tnaot through Takhmao. The collapse was caused by unnaturally high water levels, although the damage would be inspected further,” he said.

Mao Hak, deputy secretary-general of the Tonle Sap Authority under the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said a working group had inspected the location and were discussing repair options for the canal, but no immediate decision had been made. They were ready to take action should the bank collapse further, he added.

The Prek Tnaot canal bank collapsed at Takhmao town in Kandal province on Monday. Hong Menea

He predicted that the bank may in fact suffer another collapse. The rainy season is approaching and repairs of this kind are made more complicated by heavy rains. This was why the best short-term solution was to block access to the canal.

“This is the only emergency solution. We cannot assign machinery to repair it yet, we need to study it further,” he said.

Takhmao commune chief Chiem Khoy said there are no homes close to the scene. There is a Chinese temple nearby, but it is rarely used and only frequented by tourists. The public should stay out of an area which has obviously been fenced off for safety purposes, he said.