Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers: Canals are for public

Villagers: Canals are for public

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Villager representative Dam Mean alleged they are now required to pay 450,000 riel ($110) per hectare for water pumped from the canals. Facebook

Villagers: Canals are for public

Representatives of some 3,000 families from Russey Srok commune in Prey Veng province’s Peam Chor district have accused local authorities of abusing their power by selling water pumped from three state canals to villagers.

A representative, Dam Mean, said villagers have relied on the canals, which range from 4-6km in length, to irrigate their cash crops. But he alleged they are now required to pay 450,000 riel ($110) per hectare for water pumped from the canals.

He said the canals were built in 2014 by Pen Nuon, an adviser to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, for collective use. But the local authorities instead charged villagers 200,000 riel for water pumping before increasing it to 300,000 riel in 2017 and 450,000 riel starting last year.

“I just wonder why the commune chief and his officials are using public canals for their own benefit by charging villagers who pump water to irrigate their rice fields and cash crops.

“If villagers can’t afford the 450,000 riel, they are required to give 180kg of wheat to the authorities. And if they don’t have anything in exchange at all, they would not be allowed to pump the water,” he claimed.

Russey Srok commune chief Noun Meng denied the accusation, though he acknowledged that the authorities had managed the canals and maintained the water pumping fee of 200,000 riel per hectare since 2014.

The commune chief alleged that Nuon, who built the canal, now wanted to privatise them.

“Nuon is behind it. He incited villagers to protest against the local authorities because he wants the three canals for himself.

“He wanted me to sign the paperwork transferring ownership to him so that he can open a firm in the commune to take all the proceeds from water pumping.

“Actually, most people in the commune are willing to pay the 200,000 riel fees. Only a handful of them are protesting,” he claimed.

Peam Chor district governor Seng Thea said both the commune authority and villagers’ representatives have filed complaints to court and the provincial administration. He said he had tried to mediate in the dispute on many occasions but to no avail.

“Both sides wouldn’t listen to me and only want to win the case. They have now lodged complaints to court and the provincial administration.

“Once it reaches the court, the only thing I can do is implement its ruling. Meanwhile, I can only prevent both sides from acting violently,” he said.

Prey Veng governor Chea Somethy could not be reached for comment.

Nuon rejected the commune chief’s allegation.

“I just want the authorities to stop charging villagers for pumping water from the canals as they cannot afford it.

“Their rice and crop yields are not good and cannot be sold at a high price. If they are still required to pay the fees, they will surely face hardships,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.