Flooding Forces Trucks Off of National Road 4

Heavy rains on Monday stranded hundreds of freight trucks on either side of a flooded stretch of National Road 4 in Preah Sihanouk province and left Kampot town drenched, officials said.

As many as 500 north- and southbound trucks in Kompong Seila district’s O’bakrotes commune on Monday were parked on either side of a 70-meter portion of the road where waters had risen to 0.5 meters, according to Soum Kosal, deputy district governor.

The heavily trodden national road links the capital with the province’s two commercial shipping ports.

Fearing that the continued passage of vehicular traffic through 0.5-meter waters could damage the Stung Samroang bridge, provincial and district authorities agreed to close the road to trucks at 5:30 am, said Soum Kosal.

“There is traffic on both the Phnom Penh side and our side,” he said, adding that the road may buckle if it is used when submerged. “We are not allowing vehicles to use the road and bridge because we worry that the road and bridge may collapse.”

Officials said it was unclear on Monday afternoon how soon it would be before the floodwaters subside enough to allow passage to resume.

Kampot Provincial Governor Khoy Khunhour said Monday that rains in the previous 24 hours had caused floodwaters of 0.7 meters in the provincial capital but that no serious damage to property had yet been reported.

“If there is no more rain today, it will subside,” he said, adding that the rains could be a boon to rice farmers. “Heavy rain is better than no rain because right now the farmers need water.”

Government meteorologist Seth Vannareth said Monday that Cambodia is currently experiencing the effects of the southwest, or summer monsoon of June to September, and that coastal provinces had received as much as 120 millimeters of rain in the past 24 hours.

She said Monday and Tuesday were expected to see strong wind and heavy rain but that rain levels should return to normal by Wednesday.

“We have announced this strong southwest monsoon,” she said. “Fishermen at sea should be careful.”

Va Sonath, deputy director-general of the Preah Sihanouk Autonomous Port, which in 2008 handled 1.3 million tons of containerized cargo, said that a brief blockage of National Road 4 did not pose a major problem and that traffic could be rerouted via National Road 3 in Kampot if necessary.

“Today there are not a lot of goods to export and import,” he said.

However shipping industry executives said Monday that the 230 km road link to Phnom Penh was shut down due to flooding almost every rainy season and had not been improved by the toll road concessionaire AZ Group, which collects tolls from motorists.

Tan Monivann, vice president of Mong Reththy Group, operator of Okhna Mong Port, said Monday that AZ Group should raise the road above flood levels.

“The company gets money from us but still the road gets flooded,” he said.

Ing Bun Hoaw, president of AZ Group and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, declined to comment.


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