Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Water at Prey Sar back … sort of

Water at Prey Sar back … sort of

Water pipes protrude from the ground during road construction near Prey Sar prison last year that was blamed for water cuts.
Water pipes protrude from the ground during road construction near Prey Sar prison last year that was blamed for water cuts. Heng Chivoan

Water at Prey Sar back … sort of

After nearly a year of dry taps, the water supply at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison has finally been restored, but inmates are still being forced to pay for the so-called luxury commodity, according to those who live and work there.

The water system was cut last year, according to officials, because of road construction work taking place outside the prison.

Guards and well-connected inmates quickly began selling the trucked-in supply at inflated prices, the Post first reported last August, amid increases in fighting and illness.

But despite the supply being officially restored in recent weeks, staff and inmates at Prey Sar said this week that the situation has not improved.

One prison employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said that until a month ago, “three trucks were supplying the prison with water every day. But it was very expensive, so only prisoners with money could buy it; others had to use the water store, which smelled bad and made them itchy” when they washed with it.

Although the supply has now been restored, the guard said that prison officers were still intentionally giving inmates insufficient amounts of water.

“[Prisoners] are sharing their money with each other to buy the water, because the water provided by staff is not enough,” he said.

The guard added that water inside the prison is being sold for five times the price at which it was purchased.

“Inmates have to have money, because in prison they have to buy everything,” he said. “If they don’t have money, it’s very difficult for them; they can’t get enough food and water.”

A prisoner at Prey Sar who asked not to be named corroborated the guard’s account, arguing that the situation had actually worsened since the supply was restored.

“The electric pumps are turned on for barely 20 minutes a day, so we are getting less water than before. So little that I am spending extra on bottled drinking water,” he said.

Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, yesterday described clean water as a “fundamental right for all prisoners”.

“Every prison is responsible for the health of the prisoners detained within its walls, and this healthcare obligation cannot be met if prisoners do not receive, free of charge, sufficient clean water to meet their basic drinking water and sanitation needs,” she said.

Sorn Keo, spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, confirmed that Prey Sar’s water supply had been restored, but declined to comment on reports of extortion.

“I don’t know too much about that, but we always provide them with water,” he said.

Sun Lean, director of Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 1, could not be reached for comment this week.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Aeon, Micromax partner again for third mall

    AEON Mall (Cambodia) Co Ltd and a locally-owned Micromax Co Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement to develop fibre optic infrastructure for $200 million Aeon Mall 3, which is expected to be opened in 2023. The agreement was signed on June 20 between Masayuki Tsuboya, managing director of