Water Festival boat race participants hoping to set up camp along the banks of the Tonle Sap as in years past will need to find alternative accommodation this year, as the area has been renovated for the “beauty of the city”.
Phnom Penh Municipality spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday that the riverbank where many boat rowers have traditionally slept in tents for the three days of the festival had recently been landscaped.
Dimanche said a boat race subcommittee had been set up to find pagodas or schools nearby where the rowers could stay during the November 5-7 event. “Before, we used to let [the boat racers] sleep [on the riverbank], but now we can’t, because the riverbank is already clean,” he said.
Dimanche added that another subcommittee had also been convened to take charge of security during the festival. “The security will be comprised of military police and police working together to provide safety. They will have to discuss how many forces will be deployed during Water Festival.”
This year’s will be the first Water Festival since 2010, when 353 attendees died in a panic-induced crush on a bridge to Koh Pich. A government investigation ultimately laid no blame for the incident.