The Phnom Penh municipal authorities on Monday successfully removed the 400-tonne sand barge that had been left stranded at the base of the Prek Tamak Bridge since September 8.
The sand barge was moving down the Mekong River when its engine broke down, and it was swept by strong currents towards the bridge. No one was injured in the incident.
Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Kong Vimean told The Post on Monday that after weeks of repeated attempts to remove the barge, a technical team comprising of Cambodian and Chinese officials pumped the remaining sand and water in it and used another barge to tow it away when the current subsided.
“We have done this work very attentively. We had delayed our operations for five to six days because the current was very strong. We were able to continue the operation after the current subsided,” he said.
Vimean said the incident had not caused any damage to the bridge’s pillars as a large amount of sand had been pumped out from the barge after it got stranded.
“It had no effects on any parts of the bridge. The authorities will decide if any measure will be taken against the barge owner,” he said.
Vimean said while the ministry will take measures to prevent such an incident in future, he called on operators of ships and sand barges to exercise extra caution when moving past the bridge.
He said the ministry will deploy buoys and warning signs at some points of the river as a precaution.
Chan Na, the sand barge owner, expressed regret over the accident on Monday, saying he would follow the ministry’s guidelines.
“The sand barge only sustained little damage. We have towed it away to the port. The authorities have not imposed any fines because the barge did not severely affect the bridge,” he said.
Ung Dipola, the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s general department of mineral resources, told The Post on Monday the ministry had also taken part in the operation.
“We have helped with technical support and worked with sand dredging experts to pull out the barge.
“Chan Na is a trader who only transports and distributes sand but is not a sand mining operator. He buys sand from [firms] that have a licence to dredge sand and transports or sells it to others.
After the incident, he said, the ministry instructed all traders to strictly obey maritime traffic law.