Students Deprived of Education At Flooded Art School: Officials

Flooding at the Royal Univer­sity of Fine Arts campus in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district has gotten worse over the course of the past week, and continues to prevent students from attending classes, officials said.

The campus was built by Mong Reththy Group in 2005 on land reclaimed from Ba Yab lake following a government-sanctioned land swap deal for the university’s old, centrally located campus at Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium.

The campus has regularly flooded since its relocation, and this year classes have been canceled since Oct 9 because of flooding. Officials said Tuesday they aren’t sure when they will resume.

RUFA Director Po Teang said the floods have worsened re­cently on school grounds and wa­ter has be­gun to spill into his office.

“The flooding is so bad. I don’t know how to solve it,” he said. “The classes have been unable to start. We are just waiting for the floodwater to go down.”

Khuon Setheikhun, deputy di­rector of the school’s orchestra, said that the wa­ter level is well above his knee now and has flowed into three or four of the orchestra rooms.

“I have to use bricks to elevate my orchestra instruments,” he said, adding that more than 1,000 RUFA students are being deprived of their education as a result of classes being canceled.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhen said he was also at a loss as to how to solve the flooding problem.

“I don’t know how to solve it. I just wish it wouldn’t rain anymore,” he said, adding that they have provided two alternate locations for classes at the Developing Culture Theater near the new National Assembly building and the Circus Theater near the Chinese Embassy.

Klaing Huot, Russei Keo governor, said last week that he had predicted the flooding would be bad this year, but didn’t know how to prevent it. Pumps to drain water into nearby Kob Srov lake are yet to be built because they will cost upwards of $16 million to install, he said Tuesday.

“I can’t do anything to drain the water,” he said. “It is low land…. Just be patient for this year and next year it will not flood again because the pumping station will be finished and running.”

Last week, representatives from Mong Reththy Group said they would pay for any damages in­curred by the flooding.


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