Water Festival Sees Decline in Boat Registries

With just more than a week left to register for the 2008 Water Festival’s longboat races, 421 boats are signed up to compete, said Sok Kong, administration chief of the Permanent Organizing Commission for National and International Ceremonies.

The number is down slightly from last year, when 430 boats participated in the annual competition, he added.

Kandal, Kompong Cham and Kratie provinces will be heavily represented in the Nov 11-13 events, as there are 112, 70 and 49 boats registered from each province, respectively. Meanwhile, no boats representing Preah Vihear, Siem Reap, Rattanakkiri or Oddar Meanchey are signed up to participate so far, Sok Kong said.

“Although the deadline is Oct 30, we still welcome registration after the closing date because we understand some province must come a long distance to transport their boats,” Sok Kong said.

Authorities expect at least 2 million visitors to descend on Phnom Penh for the annual celebration.

The municipal public works department intends to deploy 110 two-room mobile toilets to accommodate the crowds’ sanitation needs, said Sam Samuth, chief of the Phnom Penh municipal public works and transportation department’s garden bureau.

The public works department will also dig up to 150 pits for boat racers to use as toilets on the east side of the Chroy Changvar peninsula, Sam Samuth said.

As many as 550 guards will also be deployed to Phnom Penh’s public parks to keep people from crushing grass and shrubs, he added.

Phnom Penh Municipal Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said that authorities have replaced many of the barriers around the ongoing $18-million flood drainage project, that’s underway on the city’s riverfront, with a 2-meter tall fence that will help facilitate race visibility.

He also urged the public to keep the city tidy during the Water Festival.

“We are hopeful that visitors will keep good behavior by not littering or destroying the parks because city hall has banned street vendors from selling in the parks,” he said.



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