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Capital ban on river structures floats houses down to Kandal

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Floating home owners remove their belongings along the rivers in Prek Pnov commune in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district on Sunday. Hong Menea

Capital ban on river structures floats houses down to Kandal

Residents of boats, floating houses and huts along with owners of fish farms on the rivers in Phnom Penh have dismantled and relocate following the orders from the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration.

As of June 13, about two-thirds of them have voluntarily dismantled and relocated.

Nop Pha, deputy governor of Chbar Ampov district, confirmed to The Post that more than two-thirds of the 500 houses and fish farms have moved. Those remaining are gradually dismantling their structures as instructed.

“I do not know where they moved to. However, the location where they set their floating houses and fish farms was not legal and it affected the beauty and environment of the river in Phnom Penh, especially the water quality,” he said.

According to Pha, those who have not yet dismantled their homes or fish farming cages will have to leave in five days as ordered by the Phnom Penh municipal administration or they will face the enforcement of administrative measures wherein the authorities dismantle their property without any guarantees against property damage.

Chroy Changvar commune chief Mao Buntha told The Post that more than 50 per cent of the 170 boats and about two-thirds of the 58 floating houses, fish farms and 18 houses along the shore have been voluntarily dismantled or relocated.

“For floating houses with small-scale fish farming, we have set aside three days for them. We gave five days for medium-sized fish farms so that they can disassemble and relocate the fish to new places,” he said.

Oeur Siphon, chief of Prek Tasek commune in Chroy Changvar district, said only about 10 out of 40 floating houses that have fish farms still haven’t been demolished. The authorities have not taken administrative action yet, but advised them to voluntarily dismantle the structures themselves to avoid the iron glove of authority.

Prek Pnov district authorities confirmed to The Post that 60 percent of the over 300 fish farms there have now voluntarily dismantled their floating houses and farms.

On June 13, the Russey Keo, Daun Penh, Chamkarmon and Meanchey district administrations declined to provide data on the number of people living in boats, floating houses or fish farms and how many houses have been dismantled. They referred the reporter to the Phnom Penh municipal administration.

Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng and municipal hall spokespersons Meth Meas Pheakdey could not be reached for comment on June 13.

On June 2, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a notification requiring the immediate dismantling or removal of fish farms, floating houses, small boathouses and unregulated structures along the river in Phnom Penh.

Sreng said these constructs affect the order of the waterways, ecosystems and shallow waterways, especially the use of fish feed and the fish using the river as a toilet which caused severe damage to biodiversity in the water, damaged the water quality, polluted the environment and affected the beauty of Phnom Penh. He gave just seven days for all of them to move out or face legal action.

Phnom Penh municipal deputy governor and development planning management specialist Eang Onny told The Post that this was the right time for the Phnom Penh administration to take action to free the river from fish farms, floating houses, small boats and untidy structures on the river.

He said that if this activity is allowed to continue on the river, the problem will spread like “cancer”.

“In implementing this plan, we need to strictly apply all aspects of the law in collaboration with all stakeholders and clearly identify the citizens who live on boats, floating houses, fish farms and irregular structures on the river and reduce the impact as much as we can,” he said.

According to Onny, most of the people living on boats, floating houses, fish farms and unregulated structures along the river in Phnom Penh are Vietnamese.

As the deadline fell on June 12, some floating houses have been seen in Kien Svay and Lvea Em districts of Kandal province.

Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan led the provincial unity command to inspect the river and immediately prevent them from settling there.

Sophoan confirmed that “there are some floating houses and some irregular constructions that just floated into Kandal province in Kien Svay and Lvea Em districts, which moved over from Phnom Penh.”

According to the provincial governor, as of this morning, the number of floating structures was small and the provincial authorities are watching the situation and forcing the structures to move along or move from the water to more appropriate locations.

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