Rains Flood Phnom Penh’s New Drains; Gov’t Blames Garbage

City officials yesterday blamed rainwater flooding in the heart of the capital on garbage they said had clogged drainage pipes after going uncollected during the Khmer New Year. They said the recently completed $22 million renovation of Phnom Penh’s drainage system, provided by the Japanese government, will work better in the future.

“A lot of garbage flowed into the drains,” said Nhem Saran, the city public works director. “It blocked the drains. If you come, you will see.”

The garbage problems came after last week’s three-day holiday, during which trash-collection company Cintri was not able to gather all of the city’s rubbish, he added.

“It will not flood during the next rain,” Mr Saran said, explaining that city workers went around Daun Penh district yesterday removing garbage from the drain­age system.

Seng Savy, director general for Cintri, could not be reached yesterday.

Mr Saran also said the city has a plan to clean its drainage pipes, which range in diameter from 30 to 180 cm.

“We have a plan to pump the dirt out of the drains and we are awaiting approval from City Hall,” he said.

Flooding lasted for around three hours in parts of the capital, he added. On some streets it reached up to pedestrians’ knees.

The area around Phsar Kandal saw some of the most stubborn flooding in Daun Penh district because it is a low-lying area, according to district governor Sok Sambath.

City Hall officials said in February that the completion of a $22 million drainage project would alleviate flooding in the capital.

“If there is heavy rain, we may spend less than an hour waiting for it to subside,” Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Chreang Sophan said at the time. He declined to comment yesterday, saying he was in hospital.

The two-year project was funded by the government of Japan. Nonaka Hiroyuki, project formulation manager for the Japan International Cooperation Agency, was unavailable yesterday.

Moeung Sophan, deputy director of the city’s department of public works and transport, said the new drainage work had shortened the flooding time, considering the amount of garbage on the streets.

“Even with so much garbage, it’s still better than before,” he said. “We can just mitigate to shorten the flood time.”

He said there was also flooding in other parts of the city.

According to Sen Sok district governor Khuong Sreng floodwaters in the flood-prone district quickly subsided after the rains yesterday.

“After it rained already, the water floated into the channel,” he said.

  (Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)


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