Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Plans to excavate in capital dug up

Plans to excavate in capital dug up

Soil digging continued yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district despite a 2005 government ban on the practice.
Soil digging continued yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district despite a 2005 government ban on the practice. Hong Menea

Plans to excavate in capital dug up

A large-scale digging project is taking place in the capital in seeming direct contradiction of a longstanding government ban on the practice, a letter obtained by The Post and first-hand observation by reporters suggests.

In the letter dated February 17, Phnom Penh City Governor Pa Socheatvong informs Por Sen Chey district authorities that the municipality has granted permission to a woman named Kem Sotheary to remove soil from an area of Prey Roieng village. The approval comes after a February 2 request by Sotheary for permission to sell and deliver soil.

Sotheary was one of two people swept up in a Ministry of Mines and Energy crackdown last September after she was seen illegally digging in Por Sen Chey district.

The incident prompted Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem at the time to ask Socheatvong to stop issuing licences for businesses to dig in the city.

The government had already officially banned digging for the purposes of selling soil in the capital in 2005.

Phloeung Chheh Roteh commune chief Korng Rom yesterday said the area that is to be filled is currently a rice field but maintained the digging hadn’t started yet. He added that the land where the soil will be taken from belongs to Sotheary.

“The place where they dig the soil is very far from the village,” he added. “It’s [near] National Road 3 at the edge of the village.”

But Post reporters were yesterday able to locate two huge open pits approximately two-storeys deep near National Road 3. In one of them, an excavator was at work digging. There were several other excavators and pieces of machinery sitting near the open pits, but no one could identify the person or company for whom they were working.

Villagers said the digging had been going on for two or three years. One woman, who declined to give her name, said the digging had temporarily stopped before resuming.

“They stopped digging for one year and started again around July,” the woman said. Villagers said they were concerned about children and cattle falling into the pits.

Chhe Lidin, spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the ban on digging in the municipality remains in effect and he knew of no exceptions being made.

“We have not received any information from the Phnom Penh municipality on this digging case,” he said. “Through our hotline, we did, however, receive information about people bringing equipment into areas where there had been digging activities before.”

Lidin said the ministry will send an inspection team to “enforce the law accordingly”. Phnom Penh spokesman Mep Measpheadkey referred questions to fellow spokesman Mean Chanyada. Chanyada said he had not seen the February 17 letter.

“By principle, we don’t allow digging and delivery of soil,” he said, adding that officials only approve such practice if they deem the development project as “very necessary”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be