Residents at Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak lake area reported yesterday that the filling in of the lake has been halted for the past four or five days, though government officials said that the work stoppage was merely temporary.
Srah Chak commune chief Chhay Thirith said the contractor hired by the company behind the filling of Boeng Kak, Shukaku Inc, temporarily halted pumping of sand into the lake yesterday because the project manager was busy with other matters. Mr Thirith insisted that the project had not hit any snags.
More than 4,000 families who live around the lake are believed to be at risk of eviction because of the project, which involves filling the majority of Boeng Kak lake with sand and then building a residential and retail complex on the land.
Local residents, who declined to give their names for fear of government retaliation, said the sand pumping, which has been ongoing for months, stopped four to five days ago.
Daun Penh district governor Sok Sambath said he was unaware that pumping has stopped but added that the company has on occasion halted work to fix minor problems with their equipment.
“Sometimes they have technical problems with the pumping and they don’t pump for a few days,” he said.
Mr Sambath also insisted that Shukaku’s controversial project was going forward and the lake should be completely filled in by July or August.
“Nothing has changed,” he said. “It proceeds well in pumping the sand.”
Once finished filling in the lake, Mr Sambath said, Shukaku would start building on the site.
Both the government and Shukaku, which is owned by a senator from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party, have not released details of the building plans.