Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Heavy rainfall causes border flooding

Authorities patrol a flooded area in Malai district in Banteay Meanchey province. Picture taken on September 1, 2021. Photo supplied.
Authorities patrol a flooded area in Malai district in Banteay Meanchey province. Picture taken on September 1, 2021. Photo supplied.

Heavy rains on Wednesday night have caused flooding across Cambodia, including along the border with Thailand and in the capital of Phnom Penh. The flooding has reportedly damaged many hectares of cassava plantations in the country’s northwest.

Svay Chea, district governor of Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district, said on Wednesday that some communes in his district were flooded due to heavy rainfall combined with water flowing from Thailand through a canal along the border.

“The water in Boeng Beng commune has receded, but it has increased in Malai, O’Sralao, and O’Sampoar communes along the border,” he said.

Chea said that more than a hundred responders including the military, police, military police and district officials helped to collect people’s property and move it to high ground or the upstairs levels of their houses. He said that although no people or animals died as a result of the flooding, some families did not have enough rice to eat and had to be given food by authorities.

“However, some people’s cassava plantations were damaged when they were flooded, but we do not know the total impact yet,” Chea added. “I appeal to all the people who live in other communes along the border to be careful of flooding, because the water will arrive there soon.”

Chea said that provincial authorities had been preparing their emergency response since communities along the border experienced widespread flooding two years ago.

Sek Sokhom, director of Banteay Meanchey province’s information department, told CamboJA that a COVID-19 treatment center in Serei Saophorn city had also been flooded as a result of the rainfall.

“However, [flooding in] Serei Saophorn market and the COVID-19 treatment center in the city receded on Wednesday evening,” he said.

Soum Chankea, a coordinator of human rights group Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey province, claimed that flooding had become worse in the past few years due to unchecked infrastructure development.

“[The problem is] developing roads and other developments without thinking about irrigation systems or waterway systems, so there is no place where the water can go,” he said. “What is important is the people who receive the impact.”

Some areas in Phnom Penh and part of National Road 4 in Kampong Speu province were also flooded following Wednesday’s storms. Pang Lida, the deputy governor of Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, said that the flooding had receded quicker than in the past due to the district’s renovated canals and drainage systems.

“Some roads and Choam Chao roundabout flooded, but it receded faster,” he said. “It flooded for two hours and then receded.”

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang said on Thursday that although the water level had dropped now, Wednesday’s rain had caused some flooding along National Road 4. He told CamboJA that the flooding had not affected traffic.

“Now, we are learning how to release the water during heavy rains,” he said. He added that once the water had fully receded, provincial authorities will restore canals and put in more drainage systems.

San Chey, the executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that his home in Pur Senchey district’s Trapaing Thloeng village had been flooded as a result of the rain. He suggested that the ongoing in-filling of lakes across the city had resulted in worse and worse flooding.

“The authorities do not seem to have solved the problem before the rainfall, so it makes the people face flooding,” he said. “Continued filling of [Cambodia’s] lakes remains a debate over government accountability.”

A Chinese man was killed on August 24 after heavy rains caused flooding in Preah Sihanouk province.

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