$300,000 Price Tag Put on Tonle Sap Embankment Repairs

Phnom Penh’s Public Works Department has requested $300,000 from the Ministry of Fi­nance to repair more than 200 meters of a concrete embankment along the Tonle Sap river that recently collapsed, creating an eyesore along the riverfront.

Municipal public works chief Nhem Saran said the embankment collapsed during the rainy season.

He said the foundation under the embankment was made of wood, built in the 1800s by the French, and has not been re­paired since.

The city will repair the em­bankment after the river recedes in the dry season, he said. The re­pairs will take one to two months.

Visitors stayed away from the crumbled embankment during last week’s Water Festival. Concrete railings, pieces of sidewalk and at least three trees that had shaded riverfront visitors tumbled into the dirt.

Children hung clothing from the denuded trees. Tall concrete pilings remained standing but had nothing to support them. Dirt eroded into the water, muddying it near the embankment.

“It should be fixed,” said a vendor known as Da, who lives near the waterfront. “It doesn’t look good, and people like me are scared of falling in the river.”

“They need to stop [the erosion] or it will fall down more and more until it reaches the grass,” said Yoeun Yel, a Kompong Cham ice cream vendor in town for last week’s festival.

Last year city advisers and engineers prepared a report for the Mekong River Com­mission that warned the city had not done sufficient planning before constructing new embankments on the Chroy Changva peninsula and along the Tonle Bassac. They said insufficient soil testing and steep sloping might lead to future embankment failures.

City officials worked quickly to finish the embankments in time for last year’s Water Festival, when thousands of Cambodians first flocked to the Chroy Changva side.

At the time they also expected a new convention center on the peninsula to be completed for the upcoming Asean Tourism For­um, but that project has stalled. It is unclear whether the engineers’ warnings referred to the older embankment that collapsed. MRC officials declined to comment on faxed questions, other than to say they were negotiating with the city about development in the area, known as the Chaktomuk junction.


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