Seized timber is being used to produce coffins that will be delivered across the country for deceased Covid-19 patients, a senior official said.
Authorities seized 1,347 cubic metres of timber in 2020 and 2021. It is estimated that the amount of confiscated wood could make more than 1,000 coffins.
Ministry of Environment spokesperson Neth Pheaktra told The Post on July 11 that the ministry will deliver the coffins to the national Covid-19 committee to assist it in disposing of Covid-19 corpses.
The decision came after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered on July 1 that 80 per cent of coffins be purchased for hospitals in Phnom Penh and provinces for deceased Covid-19 patients.
“As of July 11, the environmental departments in 12 provinces had made 405 coffins. Currently, some of the coffins have been used,” he said, adding that coffins were delivered to municipal sub-commissions to manage the disposal of corpses. The coffins will also be distributed to provincial sub-commissions.
“This is to show respect for our people who died from this disease and the value placed by the government on compatriots,” he said.
As of July 11, the confirmed death toll of Covid-19 rose to 902, with between 20 to 30 people dying a day.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on July 11 that this contribution assists the national Covid-19 committee.
“This is an effort to seek a solution to dispose of infected bodies appropriately and it also is the duty of the sub-commissions to manage these Covid-19 corpses,” she said.
Democratic Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said while preparing the coffins was a good gesture, the government and relevant authorities should come up with new strategies or mechanisms to prevent the pandemic and treat Covid-19 patients more effectively.
He said using seized timbers for coffins is a solution, but it is not a good and effective action economically if luxury timber is used for coffins.
“I believe that most of the seized timber is rosewood. If simple timber is used for coffins, it is not a problem or wrong. But if seized timber is made into coffins, I think it is a loss. We should take the rosewood and use it for other social programmes such as building schools in remote areas,” he said.
Concerning the coffins, Chanroeun added that according to the current situation, Cambodia can produce its own coffins without having to buy or import them from neighbouring countries.