Renowned architect Vann Molyvann warned July 18 that if the integrity of the Kob Srov lake dike is compromised, it could be a “catastrophe” for Phnom Penh.
On July 17, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor ordered Long Chhin Resorts to cease filling in a section of Kob Srov lake where the company has plans to build a large residential housing complex.
Vann Molyvann, who designed many of Phnom Penh’s landmark buildings during the 1960s, said the flood drainage system for the capital is a complex system of water basins, dikes and drainage which was very fragile.
“I was very concerned when I heard they were building on Kob Srov lake,” Vann Molyvann said in an interview.
“If any section of the dike system is compromised the whole city is at risk from floods,” he said, adding that dikes at Kob Srov, Tonle Bassac district and Stung Meanchey district are the city’s most important.
“These dikes need to be made stronger and reinforced,” Vann Molyvann said, adding that the level of the Mekong River outside the city is higher than the city itself during the rainy season.
Doung Sam Ang, who is in charge of construction at the site, said Wednesday that his boss, whose name he would not reveal, was very angry that work had been stopped at Kob Srov.
Long Chhin Resorts, run by Long Chhin (Cambodia) Investment Ltd, is owned by Zhou Shi Min, an Chinese entrepreneur who made his fortune in Shanghai selling lamps and other electrical appliances. In an interview in 2005, Zhou Shi Min said he arrived in Cambodia in 1991 and had later become a Cambodian citizen.
In a 2006 report, the Asian Development Bank said that the Kob Srov dike—built originally between 1972 and 1973—was at a high risk of failure during the heavy floods of 2000 after years of neglect. After the floods, the ADB provided $3.2 million towards the dike’s rehabilitation. However, six years after the floods, the 2006 report stated that in the case of flood protection dikes in Phnom Penh “there are indications that routine maintenance is not being carried out.”
Hor Bun Thoeun, 47, a resident of the lakeside Khmuonh commune in Russei Keo district, said he had noticed that all the trucks and diggers had stopped working inside Kob Srov on Tuesday.
“I am happy,” he said. “I hope we will still have the lake for people’s use and to prevent flooding,” he added.