Despite recent efforts by the authorities to improve drainage systems around the capital, heavy flooding and swamped roads were the norm over the past week as the kick-off to the rainy season saw pelting rain almost every afternoon, residents say.
Old drainage systems put in place during colonial times strained under the heavy rains, flooding communities like Daun Penh district’s Phsar Kandal I.
Resident Khoun Sophear, 34, said the ankle-deep water was already affecting her household for the worse.
“When the heavy rain pours down, water flows into my house, making it really difficult to live,” she said, adding that the rain affected her electricity, plumbing and family’s health.
Vann Buthany, 47, of Tuol Kork district’s Teuk Laok commune, said a drainage project completed last year by district authorities was lacking.
“The drainage system [is] equipped with small pipes, so it makes the rain water get stuck,” she said, adding that the road outside her house would be flooded for more than an hour each time.
Meanwhile, a Japan International Cooperation Agency spokesperson said the Flood Protection and Drainage Improvement Projects undertaken with the municipality had chosen to work on “limited areas, which were prioritised because of the scope of the city and the budget”.
After the completion of the project’s first two phases, with the third one under way, the agency noted improvements in the depth and duration of the flooding, she added.
However, O’Russey I commune, an area where the projects are meant to help, has yet to see notable changes, commune chief Chea Sophin said.
“Right now, several streets in my commune like 182, 166, 163, 11 and 107 are flooded during rain storms because the old drainage system has broken down,” he said.
Business at O’Russey Market was also affected, as no one could access it without wading across the roads, which were flooded for up to three hours at a time, he added.
The floodwater also polluted the streets with waste from the market and nearby vendors.
Nov Saroeun, chief of the municipality’s drainage and water-pumping unit, declined to comment, but city authorities last week appealed to residents of the Daun Penh, Prampi Makara and Chamkarmon districts to “understand” floods, as construction on the joint JICA project was not yet completed and it had rained every day.
The municipality will “put in all effort to finish the project as soon as possible”, they said.