The one-hundred-metre bamboo bridge connecting Kampong Cham town with Koh Pen Island has been damaged by abnormal Mekong River water levels, while flooding in Stung Treng province has now receded, the Kampong Cham provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun said on Tuesday.
He said the Mekong River had risen unusually by some 0.5m, flooding the bridge, but no-one has been injured.
He said provincial officials are urging the bridge’s stakeholders to repair its damaged parts and look for another safe point to serve local people and tourists who wish to visit Koh Pen Island’s beach during the dry season.
“[The river] has risen over the last two or three days and we have assigned experts to inspect it and inform people not to visit or cross the bridge because it has been damaged."
Preah Romkil commune police chief Loeng Thary, who on Monday was concerned for the welfare of 64 families who live along the riverside, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
He told The Post on Monday that the area had been flooded for four or five days and theorised that, due to heavy rainfall in Thailand, water was flowing into Laos, forcing it to open the floodgates of its Don Sahong Dam near the border with Stung Treng, thus causing water to discharge into Cambodia.
However, Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesman Mao Hak said on Monday that the dam had not been opened.
An email response from the Mekong River Commission Secretariat on Tuesday said: “Our water monitoring has observed a sudden increase in water levels along the Mekong, not just in Stung Treng and Kratie provinces . . . from January 8 to 20.”
The email said the monitoring indicated that the increase could be due to a combination of two factors.
One, the commission said, could be the unusually early rainfall in northern Laos, northern Thailand and the central highlands of Vietnam.
The commission suggested it could also be due to an increased release of water from the upstream hydropower dams in China and from main tributaries in the middle part of the Mekong basin from Luang Prabang to Pakse in Laos, and from the tributaries of Sekong, Sesan and Sre Pok in the central highlands of Vietnam.
“This has resulted in a rapid rise of water levels in the mainstream and many tributaries . . . of the lower Mekong basin. It has also created a regional hydrological high flow during January."
“Based on the detected satellite rainfall, we have observed that water levels in several stations in the upper part of the lower Mekong mainstream have been decreasing, and those in the lower reaches, including Stung Treng and Kratie stations, will decrease in the next 2-3 days.
“This is provided that there is no more heavy rain or a continuation of water released from the upstream hydropower dams in China and the tributaries of the lower Mekong basin,” the commission said.
The commission said it is striving to get more data from its member countries, especially those data on the operations of hydropower dams in the Mekong tributaries.
“We also want China to continue sharing more data on dam operations during the dry season so we have a clearer picture of what is happening and what will happen. This will finally help people in the basin to be more prepared fby reducing unnecessary loss and risk.”