Municipality Blames Residents And Trash for Flooding in Capital

A short but sharp downpour yesterday afternoon once again left behind knee-deep floodwaters in the capital’s Daun Penh district, despite municipal government promises that a new $22 million drainage system courtesy of the Japanese government would alleviate the problem.

Phsar Kandal 1 commune chief Kong Rith said the hour-long rain left streets around Kandal market flooded to the knee, forcing some vendors to temporarily move their wares. He laid some of the blame for the persistent flooding on the catchments of the new drainage system for not diverting garbage.

“When there is heavy rain, the water sweeps the trash to block the catchments,” he said.

Other officials, however, blamed the flooding strictly on the trash and the failure of residents and shop owners to follow the city’s guidelines in disposing of their rubbish.

Despite a well-built drainage system, Phnom Penh public works director Nhem Saran said, floodwaters “cannot flow out on time because the garbage blocks the catchments.”

He said the government would start pumping trash out of the drainage system soon, but added that locals should work out a schedule with trash collecting firm Cintri Ltd to avoid future floods.

“They should leave the garbage at the right time for Cintri to collect it,” he said. “When the people leave the garbage as arranged and no garbage is on the streets, there will be no flooding.”

Daun Penh district governor Sok Sambath said yesterday that he has already ordered his commune chiefs to ensure that residents put their garbage out at night on set days for Cintri to collect. He said authorities would begin fining residents who break the schedule between 10,000 riel and 100,000 riel.

Mr Sambath said the drainage system’s upgrade has helped reduce floodwater levels.

“We are happy that the Japanese government [renovated] the drain­age system to release the floodwater,” he said. “It still floods, but it quickly subsides.”

Some residents, however, were less enthused.

“First, we thought that it would not flood when the new drainage system was finished, but it still floods,” said Huo Huon, a local market vendor.

Officials at Cintri and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency could not be reached for comment.

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