Heavy flooding at the Royal University of Fine Arts campus, located on a low-lying plot of land in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, has prevented students from coming to school for nearly a week and is likely to delay classes for some time to come, officials said.
RUFA Director Po Teang said Monday that the school opened as planned Oct 1, but that flooding following heavy rains Oct 9 has prevented students from being able to access the campus since that time.
He was unable to say when RUFA classes would start again, citing the fact that the water level is still knee-high in the school grounds and also knee-high along 300 meters of the road leading up to the campus.
With one more day of heavy rain, Po Teang said he feared water would spill into his office.
“Flooding really makes it difficult…. I sent reports to the high-up officials already, and now I am waiting for a solution,” he said, blaming the flooding on overflowing from nearby Krayak Lake.
Complaints arose almost as soon as RUFA’s north campus was moved from the Old Stadium to Russei Keo’s Phnom Penh Thmei commune in 2005 following a controversial land-swap deal involving commodities tycoon and latter-day CPP Senator Mong Reththy.
Students complained about the quality of the new building and how far away the new campus was from the city, while attendance had reportedly dropped severely at the end of last school year.
The three-year-old buildings are already in various states of disrepair.
Khuon Vuthy, a RUFA yike theater teacher, said Monday that flooding, which has been a problem since they were relocated, has worsened significantly this year with 2 hectares of school grounds currently under water.
“The floodwaters have not yet gone down,” he said, adding that he pities the students who will be deprived of their education.
“It will be late when we start classes, maybe not until November,” he said.
Monivann Tan, deputy of Mong Reththy Group, which was given the former RUFA’s north campus in the center of the capital in exchange for building the new campus, said that he is currently searching for a water pump to address the situation at RUFA.
“We are now searching for a water pump and looking for a solution… I know there is flooding at RUFA, but not only this school, all over the commune is flooded,” he said, adding that Mong Reththy would pay for any damages incurred by rainwater.
Tann Sin Thou, who teaches Khmer literature and philosophy at RUFA, said Mong Reththy group’s offer was too little, too late.
“First, Mong Reththy Group helped by building the building so fast, but later on they respond too late to our requests,” she said.
Neither Phnom Penh Thmei Commune Chief Chum Saray nor Russei Keo District Governor Klaing Huot could be reached Monday for comment.