No End in Sight for Chronic Phnom Penh Flooding

Phnom Penh residents should continue to brace for more flooding during this rainy season with no imminent fix in sight, officials said Tuesday.

Flooding impacted much of the city as heavy rains fell Tuesday afternoon, causing traffic jams as motorists flocked to major thoroughfares in order to avoid smaller roads with poor drainage.

Motorists drive along a flooded stretch of Norodom Boulevard following torrential rains Tuesday afternoon. (Holly Robertson/The Cambodia Daily)
Motorists drive along a flooded stretch of Norodom Boulevard following torrential rains Tuesday afternoon. (Holly Robertson/The Cambodia Daily)

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche blamed residents for adding to the problem by blocking drains with trash or closing off manholes to avoid bad smells.

Phnom Penh Municipality last August launched a campaign to encourage people to discard their waste correctly in an effort to alleviate chronic rainy season flooding.

As part of the campaign, City Hall also pledged to clean the city’s drainage system three times this rainy season to reduce about 70 percent of the flooding caused by blockages.

Mr. Dimanche said no cleaning had taken place as of yet but preparations were underway to start.

Carelessly discarded trash has also meant that the ongoing construction of a $350-million drainage system by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in parts of the city has not eased flooding, either.

Duong Chansarath, chief of the drainage and sewage unit at the Phnom Penh department of public works and transport, said he would like to see even more new drains but added that it would depend on whether City Hall had the budget.

“The drainage system in Phnom Penh was built in French colonial times. Mostly drains are still good to use and others we can fix,” he said.

But on Norodom Boulevard on Tuesday evening, commuters were focused simply on getting home.

Kuch Veasna, 26, a vendor at O’Russei market, said he would like to see the problem fixed.

“Flooding in Phnom Penh has been a problem for a long time. It makes it really difficult to go somewhere,” he said.

[email protected]

© 2014, All rights reserved.