Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Surveyor tells court of dam site construction




Surveyor tells court of dam site construction

Surveyor tells court of dam site construction

A witness who worked on the notorious “January 1” dam site in Kampong Thom province spoke at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday about details of his job as a land surveyor for the site.

Pech Sokha, who was part of a four-man surveying team, was recruited from Phnom Penh to study the land along the Stoeung Chinit River in Kampong Thom’s Baray district.

The location subsequently became the site of the January 1 dam, which was intended to create a reservoir to supply an irrigation system, and which later became notorious for being one of the largest forced-labour projects during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

“I was asked to measure the land or survey the land on a daily basis. We had to implement the work according to the plan,” he said.

“During that time, it’s not a matter of whether I was happy with it or not. The matter was that Angkar assigned us to do the work, so we had to do it.”

The project, he added, employed about 20,000 workers who each had a quota of carrying the equivalent of 2 cubic metres of soil per day.

“Male and female workers had the same work to do . . . but I didn’t know if each worker could complete that quota,” Sokha said.

The site, he explained, “lacked hygiene” as there were many flies buzzing around as they worked and ate their meals.

But despite this, Sokha said that the workers were mostly cared for, and he “never saw anyone collapse”.

People who were seriously sick were sent to the hospital and pesticides were used to kill the flies. Workers were given ample warning through loudspeakers when an explosion to remove stones was to be set off.

Zone soldiers carrying AK-47s also patrolled the premises on foot to “guard the workers” and “be vigilant of any enemies”.

According to Sokha, the dam was scheduled to be completed a year after its inauguration in early January 1977. It was, however, never finished.

“The dam construction was not completed according to the plan. It took more time for it to be completed,” Sokha said.

Sokha concluded his testimony yesterday, and testimony from a new witness will begin on Monday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session