bati district, Takeo province – Villagers in Takeo’s Bati district erected more than 40 makeshift roadblocks Sunday along a 6-km road to stop trucks from blanketing their communities in dust as they haul stones from a quarry.
The roadblocks of stacked tires, bundles of tree branches, large rocks and logs were set up along the unpaved road that runs through Tnort and Chambak communes and connects National Road 2 to a quarry owned by International Camrocks and Block.
Heng Hong, Tnort commune chief, said the roadblocks were set up to put a halt to the large clouds of dust kicked up by the more than 100 trucks that have plied the route each day for years. The obstacles, which have effectively stopped the trucks, will remain in place until ICB agrees to pave the road, he said.
Tnort commune deputy chief Tiev Chamroeun said more than 1,000 families live in the five roadside villages hit hardest by the dust.
“If this keeps going on, what about our children’s health?” asked Men Rithy, a father of two, as he stood by the roadblocks Monday, helping to move them aside for some vehicles. A resident of Tnort commune’s Seyha village, Men Rithy said the company was first asked to pave the road two years ago. The manager of International Camrocks and Block, which opened the quarry 10 years ago, said he wanted to pave the road, but lacked the funds.
“It’s wrong to block the road. They should talk to us and find a solution,” said the manager, who asked not to be named.
The manager added that his company waters the road twice a day to keep the dust down.
“I admit there is dust. But the dust does not make them sick,” he said, adding that his truck drivers would not plow through the roadblocks.
Bati District Governor Lay Sokha said Monday that a meeting was scheduled for today among village chiefs, commune chiefs and ICB to resolve the dispute.
“We know it is dusty and affecting their health,” Lay Sokha said. “It isn’t that we do not want to solve the problem, but the company says it has no ability to pave [the road] with tarmac.”