Phnom Penh officials said they will begin reconstructing a road that collapsed into the Tonle Sap River in Chroy Changva district earlier this year, another instance of the riverbank collapsing due to erosion.
A road along the river in Chroy Changva’s Prek Tasek commune fell into the river in March, residents said, with city governor Khuong Sreng visiting the area on Tuesday and promising to reconstruct the road as soon as possible. A commune official said Wednesday that construction material was already being brought to the area.
Ouer Siphon, Prek Tasek’s commune chief, said sand and large rocks had been transported to the area to start the construction. He said the city would make a temporary structure for the road and that a more permanent solution will be constructed after the monsoon season.
The commune chief was not very clear about why the riverbank had fallen but said it had to do with a creek that was filled years ago but the land was eroded by the flow of water. He said the area had seen at least two other instances of bank erosion.
“When the creek was filled up, the water seeped through the soil for four to five years and slowly flowed into the river so that could have caused the collapse,” he said.
Siphon said the incident had caused riverside residents anxiety and that they were worried about further erosion. He added that most of the village residents were not financially well off.
“The people who had their house along the river, they face great difficulty. It can happen at any time, any hour, they could sink into the river with the land. They cannot even sleep at night sometimes,” Siphon said.
In May, a section of the riverbank in Kandal’s Takhmao city also collapsed, destroying parts of Khmer-Chinese temple and large concrete embankments with stairs leading to the waters. Officials blamed the incident on heavy rains upstream.
The Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers have seen heightened sand dredging over the past few years, with local news routinely reporting riverbank collapses along the three rivers.
Back at Prek Tasek, residents who were now less than a meter from the river’s edge said they worried about further erosion that could swallow their homes, whereas others were concerned about accessibility to the village if the road was not reconstructed.
The house of Ros Borany, 34, is now less than one meter from the river and the village resident thinks it is possible her house could collapse too. She had taken some preventive measures, creating a split in her floor to prevent it all from being dragged in with the rest of the house.
This was the first time she had seen the river bank near her home fall into the river, she said.
“I worry that my house will soon fall as well but I have no more worries now as [Tuesday] morning we had a visit from Phnom Penh governor and he said he will start building it back,” Borany said.
Keum Leum, 73, has a house further inland but said she had seen slow but consistent erosion of the riverbank. She was worried it wouldn’t be long before her house was affected too.
She wanted the government to rebuild the road and reinforce the banks to prevent future incidents.
“The landslide has been happening every year bit by bit but it was not as bad as it is this year,” Leum said.