After Riverbank Collapse, Vattanac a No Show

More than 10 days after a section of the Tonle Sap riverbank collapsed in Phnom Penh, causing five houses to fall into the water, the Vattanac company, which residents blame for the destruction, has not yet met with the villagers to discuss compensation, a local official said Thursday.

According to former occupants of the destroyed homes in Russei Keo district’s Kilometr Pram Muoy commune, construction work being carried out by Vattanac at a neighboring property caused the riverbank to tremble before a 20-meter-long section slid into the water on May 3.

Commune chief Sok Sambath said Thursday that representatives of Vattanac failed to attend a meeting on Monday to discuss compensation.

“We invited the company to come on Monday, but it did not come, therefore we have invited the company [to come] again on [May] 18,” Mr. Sambath said.

Representatives of Vattanac could not be reached.

Lim Buntha, 50, who was among those whose homes were destroyed, said a representative of the company visited the area in the days following the collapse and promised to help the families, who are asking for $7,000 to rebuild their wood-and-bamboo houses.

“The company cheated us because a representative said it would resolve the problem for us this week, but when the commune chief called them to a meeting, they did not come,” Mr. Buntha said.

“We lost everything in the water including our clothes, dishes and food,” he added. “Now our children cannot go to school, we do not have proper shelter and we live in tents.”

Last week, 10 more families whose homes were damaged by the collapse moved away from the riverbank out of concern for their safety.

Euk Chantry, 53, whose family is among the 10, said residents would camp outside Vattanac’s nearby property if the company did not show up for the meeting on May 18.

“The company is avoiding solving the problem,” he said. “If there is still no solution, our people will take action, like building tents in front of the company from Monday to Wednesday.”

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