Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SEZ polluting Bavet canal, villagers say



SEZ polluting Bavet canal, villagers say

A car passes through the gates of the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Bavet last year where villagers have accused the SEZ of polluting a waterway.
A car passes through the gates of the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Bavet last year where villagers have accused the SEZ of polluting a waterway. Pha Lina

SEZ polluting Bavet canal, villagers say

Villagers living along a canal in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town say its water has been polluted by untreated discharge from the nearby Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ), rendering it unusable.

Three communes live along the Tapov canal – Bati, Prasat and Bavet – with villagers from the first two saying that they have complained about the pollution since 2015 and that the quality of the water has continued to decline and the smell is unbearable.

Bati’s commune chief, Chan Sarun, said the villagers had complained to him multiple times, and while Manhattan SEZ administrators said they would build a water treatment facility he was yet to see any improvement.

“We know of cows that have died after drinking the dirty water and we can no longer find fish in the water,” he said, adding that many villagers have left the area because the smell was too noxious.

In 2014 the canal was brought to the attention of Bavet Town Governor Seng Seyla, who yesterday said he had no jurisdiction over the SEZ and had passed the matter on to provincial officials.

“I acknowledge their difficulties, but we need to understand the job opportunities this zone has provided to the people,” he said. “So this is unavoidable.”

Koeut Saroeurn, head of the provincial environment department, said the canal had been polluted by Manhattan, but it was not as badly as locals claimed.

“We know the water is polluted in that canal, but it is not as bad as other lakes, like Boeung Tompun [in Phnom Penh],” Saroeurn said. “We have asked the factories to build their own water treatment plants.”

In an interview yesterday, Manhattan’s managing director, Larry Kao, said that while the SEZ now had a water treatment plant, which would be operational soon, it was also the responsibility of individual factories to perform water treatment.

“All investors in the SEZ, if they have discharge water, they are responsible for their own treatment,” he said. “We are concerned if there are discharges.”

While initially dismissing the villagers’ claims, Kao did admit that there could be instances of garment dyes being present in the canal water, and that the SEZ would work with the provincial authorities to address any erring factories.

Last year, garment manufacturer and SEZ tenant Top Sports was fined twice for discharging untreated water into the canal, but now has its own treatment facility.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of