About 50 residents of Village Three in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak lake area protested in front of City Hall yesterday, demanding municipal authorities build a new sewage system in their neighborhood, which has been flooded by wastewater in recent months after the construction firm Shukaku Inc blocked their local sewage system.
Taing Phuong, a representative of the protesting residents, said that a new pump installed by authorities Monday was not up to the task of removing the sewage water from beneath the wooden stilt houses of the 28 families living in Village Three.
“The pump is too small. It cannot move the sewage water away, the pump seems like it doesn’t reduce the flooding,” Ms Phuong said. “We came here to request that City Hall and the government build a new drainage system to remove the sewage.”
Ms Phuong said the protesters delivered a letter to City Hall administrators, who promised to forward the request to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema.
On Monday, authorities installed a new pump to replace one that had been put in the village in early January. The new pump, however, was smaller than the old pump and the wastewater quickly rose under the houses in Srah Chak commune, according to residents.
Resident Prum Sopheap, 57, said that locals, especially children, have suffered health problems, particularly skin irritations, from coming in contact with the sewage water.
“One of my grandchildren has itchy skin over his entire body, I had to take him to a health clinic,” Ms Sopheap said. “I also worry my grandchildren could drown because the wastewater [underneath the houses] is deep,” she added.
Daun Penh District Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth said yesterday that pumping the sewage away was a temporary solution and that district authorities have put forward a request to municipal authorities to construct a new sewage system for the residents.
“We have already requested that City Hall send experts to study [the situation] and create the new sewage system,” Mr Penhvuth said, adding that he was unable to say when construction of the new system might begin.
Neup Ly, a community empowerment officer at the Housing Rights Task Force, said NGO workers and international engineers had told municipal authorities last year that filling the lake would cause flooding around Boeng Kak lake.
“It violates the housing rights and affects lives of the people because the company fills the lake without studying the impact,” Mr Ly said.
“If authorities don’t solve the problem [in Village Three] soon, it will affect the health of villagers there even more seriously.”