Overloaded Trucks Banned Amidst Flooding

With flooding bringing bridges and roads in the southeastern provinces to the brink of collapse, the government has banned high-load trucks from certain sensitive national routes.

Undersecretary of State for Public Works Uk Chan said trucks carrying more than 25 tons would be banned along national routes 6A, 7 and 11.

“We have to ban overloaded trucks because they could cause a lot of damage to flood-affected roads and bridges,” he said.

On Wednesday Kompong Cham police in Prey Chor fined 15 overloaded timber trucks a total of more than $2,500, said Kompong Cham Second Deputy Governor Mao Phirun. One truck weighed more than 40 tons, he said. Police removed the timber until the truck was properly load­ed and set the timber aside for a future pickup.

Two bridges washed away on Tuesday evening on Route 6A, provoking Prime Minister Hun Sen to say he would “handcuff” owners of logging companies and revoke their licenses if they continued overloading their trucks.

The two bridges will be back in service by the end of the week, Uk Chan said. Route 6A is the main link between Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom and Siem Reap. The timber trucks were heading from Kompong Thom to Phnom Penh.

National Route 11 has become impassable since a total of a kilometer of roadway has been washed away at five different places, said Chhay Sareth, first deputy governor of Prey Veng. At least six bridges are nearing collapse, Chhay Sareth said.

Meanwhile, Mao Phirun said two teenagers drowned when they fell off a boat Tuesday, bringing the total death toll from flooding to at least 39. Nearly a half-million people have been affected by the flooding, with approximately 380,000 people forced from their homes. Damage to roads, crops, rice paddies and animals has reached about $15 million so far, disaster management officials said.

This year’s deluge follows last year’s record floods—the worst in 70 years—which left hundreds dead and caused more than $160 million in damages, according to officials.

Hundreds of people from the nearby countryside have fled the waters and crowded into Phnom Penh. But police raids on pagodas made during the week clear­ed many from the city and drove a group of about 250 to the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters.

Sam Rainsy Party cabinet chief Phi Thach said Friday as many as 600 people are now trying to seek refuge inside the party compound.

“They were being hunted by police,” he said. Witnesses say several of the flood victims were beaten by police as they were forced from Wat Botum and Wat Svay Pope.

“But it is not possible to help them. We have no means,” Phi Thach aid. Several opposition party lawmakers have written letters to King Norodom Sihanouk and the Cambo­dian Red Cross asking for food for flood victims.

“I hope the King and the others are generous and will consider this request,” he said.

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