About 100 villagers living around Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak lake protested on Friday morning against flooding in the area, which they say has persisted due to the activities of private construction firm Shukaku, which is filling in the lake for development purposes.
Flooding in several villages around Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak lake has affected local living conditions for almost a week after heavy rains in the capital last weekend.
“The company has to pump out the water to make the villagers’ life easier,” said Be Pharom, a resident of Srah Chak commune’s Village 22, through a loudspeaker during Friday morning’s protest outside Shukaku’s offices.
She said that villagers wanted the company to suspend filling operations until the floodwaters – which now contain large quantities of sewage and waste – are disposed.
Nget Vannak, 28, a resident in Village 6 said during the protest that his house had been flooded for an entire week and that the water had consistently stayed at about 20 cm above the ground.
“The water smells awful. My nephew has rashes on his legs,” he said.
Calls to Shukaku’s offices went unanswered, and the company has previously refused to talk to the media about its operations concerning the Boeng Kak lake development.
Villagers spent about three hours protesting outside Shukaku’s offices from 7:30 am on Friday, but nobody from the company came out to hear their concerns.
At around 10:30 am Srah Chak commune chief Chhay Thirith came to visit the protestors. He said that local authorities would connect the sewage system in neighboring Russei Keo district to the affected areas around the lake.
“In three to five days the construction will finish and the flooding will recede,” he said.
Villagers accepted Mr Thirith’s words but unanimously agreed that they would protest again if the flooding did not recede by next week.
Nouv Saroeun, director of the drainage and sewage unit for the Department of Public Works, said that the drains around the lake had been blocked for the past week so that workers could finish construction of the new sewage system.
“It will finish within a week. I am sorry but please wait,” he said.