Officials in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district were finally able to open gates to the flood drainage system in Svay Pak commune, which has allowed flooding in some parts of the district to begin subsiding.
District Governor Klaing Huot said high levels of the Mekong River had prevented opening of the drainage system for the past three months, but authorities were finally able to do so Oct 20 when the river level went down 20 cm.
As a result, flooding at the Royal University of Fine Arts campus in Phnom Penh Thmei commune began to subside, though water has begun to flow into other areas in the district, such as Tuol Sangke commune, where flooding remains severe.
“I am sorry too,” Klaing Huot said. “But it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the citizens’ situation…. I don’t know how to help them on time,” he said.
RUFA Director Po Teang confirmed Thursday that the water at his campus has gone down slightly, but he said he still couldn’t predict when classes—which have been canceled since Oct 9—would begin again.
“Now the floodwater is down a bit, but I could not say when it will all go down. It depends on how the authorities take care,” he said.
Po Teang said that he thinks this year’s excessive flooding is because of the filling in of two nearby lakes—Pumpeay and Ba Yab.
Russei Keo commune resident Heng Chansothy said that where he lives in Borei Rathnida community, flooding has been steadily increasing over the past two weeks, something he attributes to the filling in of Boeng Kak lake, which began in August.
He said there is water up to his waist, which is black with waste in many areas and affects about 100 homes. He said every day he has to go 300 meters by boat, which costs 10,000 riel, and then wade through another 700 meters in order to bring his children to school.
“It is so difficult living in this floodwater,” he said.
Peou Maly, municipal deputy director of transport, said flooding at the municipal public works and transport department in Russei Keo—which was 20-cm deep earlier this month—has not begun to go down yet. He also added that flooding around his home in Tuol Sangke is worsening by the day.
“It is also caused by the filling of Ba Yab and Pumpeay lakes, and also Boeng Kak lake draining water into my district too,” he said.
Klaing Huot said that Pumpeay and Ba Yab lakes were filled in several years ago and that he didn’t think the filling of lakes had anything to do with flooding this year.
“The filling in of Pumpeay lake and Ba Yab lake, and draining water from Boeng Kak lake cannot cause heavy flooding like this,” he said, adding that he thinks the majority of water is coming from Dangkao district and Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, from which water flows to Russei Keo.
Klaing Huot said that he believes it will take another week for all the flooding to subside.