3 Forestry Officials Suspended Over Accident

The Minister of Agriculture sus­pended a regional forestry official and three Siem Reap provincial officials on April 12 after a truck loaded with timber caused a bridge to collapse in the prov­ince’s Banteay Srei district, killing two men.

In a prakas, or ministerial declaration, signed by Minister Chan Sarun, the officials, who included Vann Sophanna, chief of inspection for the Forestry Admin­is­tration in the Northern Tonle Sap region, were suspended because they “lacked responsibility in fulfilling their duty.”

Vann Sophanna, Ly Chu Bieng, chief of forestry for Siem Reap, Khim Pan, chief of forestry for Banteay Srei district, and Buoy Tan Sothearith, chief of forestry for Banteay Srei commune, will be suspended pending the completion of an investigation into the incident.

Three trucks laden with timber were traveling in a convoy, Sok Sun Lik, director of the Public Work and Transport Department for Siem Reap, said Monday.

One truck crossed the bridge safely, but the second, weighing about 50 tons, collapsed the 30-meter steel bridge, killing two workers in the truck.

Van Sophanna was in Siha­nouk­ville on vacation when he was suspended. He did not notify officials at the administration or receive authorization for the trip, said Than Sarath, deputy director of the public affairs unit at the For­estry Administration, which fueled allegations of lack of responsibility.

Vann Sophanna said Monday the timber being transported in the truck was not illegally cut.

A permit existed for the timber’s legal use in Siem Reap prov­ince, and it came from Oddar Mean­chey province’s Anlong Veng district, he said.

 

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