Phnom Penh (2013-2015) / Mercenary Extraction of Soil Causing Floods and Deaths

“The district authority knows clearly about who causes the flooding, but they just ignore it.”

“We will continue our request. How we are living nowadays is like there is danger ahead. I cannot stay silent. It is not only about my life but also my children, with no education. [Accidents] have happened  to others in the community. Who will be next we don’t know,” Hak Chamnap, a resident from Khva Village in Phonm Penh’s Dangkao district said.

Since 2013, Khva Village has been flooded for two years. Homes and schools were destroyed. People were hurt. Properties were lost. And finally, the issue became a deadly incident in November 2015, in which two deaths were caused. However, villagers have been telling the media this is not just simply an accident. A company owned by a government official extracted soil and sell them for profits. A 10-hectare large pond was created when water fills up the hole formed by the digging and dredging process. Government officials said it floods when it rains but villagers reported that flooding still occurs even if there is no rain. Some areas are flooded for years.

Villagers said they were approached by the company and were persuaded to sell their lands at a cheap price. This obviously failed and flooding has come as a consequence. “He can’t persuade them to sell, so he is forcing them by flooding the pond,” Sia Phearum, director of local NGO Housing Rights Task Force, said. If what was said is real, this is simply another kind of shameless eviction happening in Phnom Penh. In order to gain ownership of the land and make profits, everything can happen.

People from Khva Village held a protest and showed photos of the 20-year-old NGO teacher lying dead from electricity shock in her flooded home on October 20 2015 at the Dangkor District hall (Fig.1). 4 of the villagers were allowed to meet the government officials. They were demanding an immediate action and an additional pumping machine with gasoline supplied. However, it was not reported that what happened now in the end.

protest
Figure 1 – People from Khva Village protesting

This incident might have partially explained why flooding has deteriorated in Phnom Penh and the government does not seem very active in dealing with the problem. Very likely, corruption and conflict of interest are some deadly issues deeply rooted in the authorities.

 

Reference

Dara, M., & Henderson, S. (2013, July 4). Villagers Say Homes Being Purposely Flooded. The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved December 21, 2015, from https://www.cambodiadaily.com/archives/villagers-say-homes-being-purposely-flooded-33317/

Suy, P. (2015, October 27). Deadly Flooding Spurs Protest. Khmer Times. Retrieved December 21, 2015, from http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/17215/deadly-flooding-spurs-protest/

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