Riverfront Promenade Collapses

Revelers had a lucky escape Sun­day evening when a 60-meter stretch of Phnom Penh’s riverfront prom­enade tumbled into the Tonle Sap river behind the Imperial Gard­en Villa & Hotel. The riverbank collapse tore 20 me­ters inland, sending the promenade’s ornate embankment wall and paving stone path into the river at around 8:15 pm, witnesses and local of­ficials said.

Heavy rains in the early hours of Tuesday morning compounded the damage, said Meas Chantha, chief of the municipality’s riverbank and flood protection unit.

Built in 2001, the section of riverbank that collapsed received minor re­pairs last year, Meas Chantha said, adding that strong currents and whirlpools were responsible for the bank’s erosion.

“It’s because of whirlpools and the flow of the river changing every year,” he said.

Chaktomuk commune police Chief Chea Rithy said no one was hurt by the collapse but a motorcycle was lost.

Though he lost his motorbike, 24-year-old Bun Sunnaroath said he was lucky to have saved his own life.

“If we were late running away, we would have been killed in the collapse,” Bun Sunnaroath said, re­count­ing how he and his friends start­ed to run when they heard a loud cracking noise emanate from the ground.

In January, a 90-meter stretch of Ton­le Sap riverbank opposite Phsar Chas collapsed. The bank had been re­­paired in 2003 and 2005, but collapsed again despite the efforts of mu­­nicipal engineers and the Mong Reth­thy Group, and $800,000 in construction fees.

“The renovation at this time, Khmers cannot do it. There is only [Ja­p­an International Cooperation Agen­cy] that can do it,” Mong Reth­thy said by telephone on Tuesday.

Following the riverbank’s second coll­apse, which occurred after his com­pany completed $350,000 worth of repairs in 2003, Mong Reththy said his company did its best to comply with the construction plan de­signed by the municipality’s technical experts.

However, the repairs, which were completed in June at a cost of $450,000, only lasted until Janu­ary, when the 90-meter stretch fell into the river.


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