Flood-Devastated Route 1 Undermines Ferry

The Neak Leoung ferry carrying Route 1 traffic across the Me­kong River from Phnom Penh to­ward Vietnam has been idle since Sept 16, costing the government an estimated 9 million to 12 million riel ($2,358 to $3,157) a day in revenues.

Route 1 has suffered flood damage in several different areas. Car, and especially truck and taxi traffic, has just about come to a halt, offering no reason to run the ferry, officials said.

Thousands of people have been getting across the Mekong on dozens of smaller private boats.

Many of the travelers are factory workers trying to get to Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces to check on their families during the flooding, or just heading home for the Pchum Ben holiday.

Rather than struggle down Route 1 all the way to Neak Leoung, most travelers are catching the boats at Prek Thmei commune, 9 km west of the ferry crossing.

Seng Chhoun, deputy director of the ferry, said the going rate seemed to be 5,000 riel for fast boats and 3,000 riel for slower boats.

He said the boats generally carry 10 to 50 people.

One of the boat owners, Kong Chhorn, said he is happy with the 100,000 riel a day he is making while the ferry sits idle.

“No boats have had any accidents yet,” he said. “The water speed is no trouble for the local boat owners. If they find the winds are strong, they will just take a rest for a while.”

“I cannot estimate when the ferry will operate again,” Seng Chhoun said. “We will not operate it until the government fixes the road.”

Route 1 is damaged in at least three spots between the ferry crossing and the Vietnam border.

The water level in Phnom Penh rose marginally to 11.19 meters on Wednesday, but is forecast to rise no further.

Of more immediate concern was street flooding caused by poor drainage in the streets near Wat Phnom.



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