Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Relocated Run Ta Ek Residents Face Flooding With Incomplete Drainage System

Heavy rain caused flooding at the new relocation site in Run Ta Ek, on June 28, 2023. (Supplied)
Heavy rain caused flooding at the new relocation site in Run Ta Ek, on June 28, 2023. (Supplied)

Houses in Run Ta Ek were flooded after heavy rains on Wednesday, many of which are homes to residents who recently relocated from Angkor after reports of forced evictions. 

Residents have expressed concern in the past that their new homes could face flooding as infrastructure in the area, including the drainage system, remains unfinished.

Ear Rai, a resident who moved from Angkor to Run Ta Ek during the rainy season, said she has been worried about flooding at her house, along with other community members, because the drainage system that the authorities built is not ready.

“I’ve been worried about this issue, but the construction team told me there was no need to worry about that,” she said. 

She said the area also lacks a clean water system, and she worries about her child’s safety walking around a village with ongoing construction.

Sim Channa, another villager who recently moved from Angkor, said that the roof of her house was damaged because of the strong winds and heavy rain. She said she has asked the local authorities and governor to help expedite the installation of a lightning protection system so that her community will be safer.

“We are worried about lightning,” said Channa “There are no trees or lightning detectors. We worry that we can get shocked when our bodies are wet and touch something. Everyone [villagers] is saying that.”

Strong wind destroyed dozens of houses at the relocation site in Run Ta Ek, on June 28, 2023. (Supplied)

The Cambodian government is currently working to clear settlements around Angkor Archeological Park in an effort to retain the temple’s UNESCO World Heritage status. 

Officials claim the resettlements are voluntary but an April CamboJA investigation found that many families said they were forced to move to the Run Ta Ek relocation site. CamboJA’s reporting revealed that the site lacked safe drinking water, toilet facilities and fully constructed homes when people began moving there in late 2022. 

Amnesty International also published a report in March that said residents in the area were not provided with houses, clean drinking water or adequate restroom facilities when they arrived.

The commune chief of Run Ta Ek Chhuon Im said heavy rains will lead to flooding in the area, especially because some of the houses are built on low-lying land. 

“Currently the water is receding and we have already sent the report to the provincial authority,” she said. 

Ly Samrith, spokesperson of Siem Reap province, told CamboJA that in order to tackle the flooding issue, the provincial authority already reported it to the expert authority. 

“We have to report to the middle authority urgently to create a temporary solution, because the rain will continue to fall, so it will cause the problem,” Samrith said. 

Long Kosal, spokesperson for Cambodia’s APSARA National Authority managing the Angkor park, said he did not know about this issue and it was not under his authority. 

“They have an expert team [working to develop the Run Ta Ek area], so I can’t say anything instead of them,” he said. 

Suon Narin, Adhoc’s monitoring officer in Siem Reap province, said the flooding was only temporary due to the rainy season as authorities were building sewers and roads. But another problem the residents are facing is the water supply system and toilets.

“I see that the engineering team is working hard, if you look at the growth of the number of houses nearly reaching the planned amount, ” said Narin. “The people want clean water and toilets.”

One resident posted pictures and video on Facebook on Wednesday showing vast flooded areas of the neighborhood. She wrote that her experience living in Run Ta Ek has been the opposite of what she expected. 

“I volunteered to come here just to live in a new place with a confident, comfortable life and safety,” the person wrote. “Now, my family requests that the authorities fill in [the land] with more soil because our land is deep and it causes floods.” 

Local authorities used an excavator to cut through a community road in Run Ta Ek to release flood water in the village, on June 28, 2023. (Supplied)