As the much-needed rainy season aproaches, farmers in Cambodia are rejoicing. On the contrary, people in the capital are concerned about whether or not the streets and their houses will soon be flooded as has traditionally been the case.
Although no one knows for sure what is in store until the rain comes, according to the City Hall, “This year, the Phnom Penh governor considers reducing flooding in the city as the first priority, and is determined to not allow it to happen this year.”
The municipality has been busy constructing mechanisms to keep floods at bay.
Chen Bunthoeun, City Hall spokesman, said early this week that after inspecting construction sites and fixing water pumping stations leading out of the city, the governor is confident there will not be flooding along the streets or in houses this year.
He said, “Based on new water pumping stations that are equipped with large pumping heads which we are installing, the governor guarantees that the city won’t be affected by flooding again.”
“Right now, we have 11 water pumping stations leading out of Phnom Penh – three of which are new facilities created by the city, such as Boeung Trabek Station close to the old station. We have also built two new stations; Toul Kork 1 and Toul Kork 2 Stations.”
“The new Boeung Trabek Station is equiped with 11 new automatic pumping heads, five of which are 0.80 metres wide, while the others are one metre wide,” Bunthoeun said.
Each head can pump out up to 23.3 cubic metres of water per second.
He said, “Early this rainy season, we have only used one part of the Beoung Trabek Station. There isn’t any water for other stations to pump, so the municipality hopes that the city won’t be flooded again this year.”
According to a report by Em Sophea, head of the technical team and the construction of Boeung Trabek Station in Sangkat Phsa Dem Tkov, the station has been in operation since January 2016, and is split into two phases.
The first phase containing six water doors is scheduled to finish in August 2016. The second phase contains five water doors, but no definitive completion date has been given. At the end of May, the first phase was 70 per cent completed. The capital cost for this public development was not disclosed in the report or by the spokesman when pressed.
Chrek Soknim, CEO of Century 21 Mekong, applauded the initiative of the new pumping stations.
“Although there has been flooding in some residential areas in Phnom Penh, it has not affected the property market in Phnom Penh. Even if it hinders the progress in some construction sites, it has yet to pose any major concerns. However, I am glad, as a citizen in this city, because there won’t be any more flooding problems,” Soknim said.
Ho Vandy, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce consultant, said, “If you compare the floodings in Phnom Penh to the whole region, Phnom Penh’s is very minimal and it does not affect the tourism industry much because tourists don’t travel during rainy seasons. If you look at Bangkok, it has flooded to the point where even the airport was flooded.”
Regardless, a bread vendor along Mao Tse Tung Boulevard isn’t quite as confident as the City Hall. She said every time it rains around Mao Tse Tung, Phsa Darm Kor and Sonthormuk School bear the brunt of the flooding.
“Some days, the flood reaches above our knees, and it causes traffic jams for hours.”
“There are days when there isn’t a single customer in my shop because the flooding is too bad in front of my house,” she said.