Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - River homes on edge of disaster

River homes on edge of disaster

A collapsed section of the Tonle Sap riverbank in the capital’s Russey Keo district
A collapsed section of the Tonle Sap riverbank in the capital’s Russey Keo district. Pha Lina

River homes on edge of disaster

Almost 200 families in the capital’s Russey Keo district are living in fear of their homes plunging into the Tonle Sap river.

Since the middle of March, nine houses have tumbled into the river and about 24 are dangerously close to sharing a similar fate, Chea Som Un, Demkor village chief in Chroy Changvar commune, said.

“I made a report and sent it to the commune chief, district governor and Phnom Penh governor about this problem,” she said. “On Tuesday, experts from the municipal hall led by the deputy governor visited the site for inspection, but nothing has been done.”

The constant noise caused by sand-pumping activities is a regular annoyance for families living in the district, said Moak Savat, 57, who lives along a section of eroding riverbank in the village.

“If sand pumping continues in this area, my house will fall into the river,” he said.

Officials from City Hall are investigating the effects of sand dredging in the area, according to Cheak Eang, director of the municipal environment department.

“We’re waiting for the results [of our inspection] because river bank erosion can be caused by human[s], wind and nature,” he said.

Resident Em Sokhorn, 62, said yesterday that Eang’s statement was merely a means to calm residents and buy more time for those who were profiting from the sand-dredging activities.

“When we criticise authorities directly, we get blamed for living on the riverbank illegally,” Sokhorn said, adding that some had been living in the area for 35 years.

In mid-February, two small children and a woman were killed when a riverbank collapse sent three houses into the Mekong River in Kandal province.

A resident reported that sand had been pumped from the area a few years prior to the incident.

In 2009, Prime Minister Hun Sen cited sand dredging’s negative impacts on riverbeds and marine areas as the impetus behind banning the export of sand abroad.

Last October, the government placed a moratorium on sand dredging in the Mekong and the Tonle Bassac rivers.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio