Drug Trafficking Up, Overall Crime Down in Phnom Penh

Drug trafficking cases in Phnom Penh more than doubled last year, though overall crime in the capital has dipped since 2014, municipal governor Pa Socheatvong announced on Thursday.

Speaking during City Hall’s annual meeting, the governor read out year-end figures and officially launched the “Phnom Penh Municipal Master Plan on Land Use 2035,” which was passed last month and is set to address the city’s ballooning population by laying out a plan for new roads, parks, water systems and residential policies.

According to Mr. Socheatvong, 1,260 people were arrested in conjunction with 463 drug-related cases last year, compared to 559 arrests in 208 cases in 2014.

While drug arrests increased, overall crime dropped. In 2014, police recorded 844 cases in the capital; last year, they recorded 765.

The governor also discussed ongoing issues including flooding in the city, which has worsened over the years with population growth and the infilling of drainage basins such as Boeng Kak and Boeng Trabek lakes.

“I promise that in two years, there will be no more flooding,” Mr. Socheatvong said, explaining that the municipality was in the process of installing more than 150 km of drainage pipes across the city.

He said he was confident that the new master plan would cut down on land disputes that have rocked Phnom Penh over the past decade.

“In the capital, land disputes are still the main concern for people, but when we have prepared the master plan for 2035, then it might make them happy,” he said.

Ee Sarom, executive director at urban housing NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, however, said he was doubtful that the plan—made without consultation with civil society leaders or affected families— would do much to change the status quo.

“How can we believe the master plan will benefit the people?” he said. “In the past, the government has shown plans, but then destroyed people’s houses or evicted them.”

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