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Residents Claim Flooding From Developer's Lake Fill

A Cambodian amputee beggar is given money by a passerby while wading in the street flood in Phnom Penh.

Heavy rains on Monday flooded the homes of at least 1,000 people in the Boeung Kak lake area of Phnom Penh, where residents say the pumping of sand and mud into the lake by a city developer has diminished a natural drainage system.

Most have now temporarily evacuated their flooded homes.

More than 50 people gathered in front of City Hall Tuesday to protest against the development, which has met with continued criticism.

The protesters delivered a complaint to city officials claiming their homes were filled with up to a half a meter of water after heavy rains. Some staid behind to yell their dismay, saying the development of areas of Phnom Penh were not good for its people.

Residents said Tuesday such flooding did not happen before Shukaku, Inc., began filling the lake as a development site.

Officials for Shukaku, which began filling the lake for a $79 million development in 2008, were not available for comment. The company is at odds with thousands of residents who say they have been offered a buy-out that is too small.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong said Tuesday the flooding was not caused by the pumping. Many areas of the capital had flooded as a result of heavy rains and a lack of drainage citywide, he said.

“Last night, I didn't sleep well, because of flooding in my house,” Laom Eang, a 38-year-old noodle vendor at Village 24 in the Srah Chok commune of Daun Penh district, said. She sat at her home, where she cooks for customers, and where floodwater 30 centimeters deep covered the floor. “I've never seen flooding like this after heavy rains,” she said, blaming the fill development, which seeks to cover about 120 hectares of lake.

Nearby, Kong Sokha, 44, who rents out a mobile gas stove from house to house, said he could no longer live in the area.

“I'm afraid the flood level will become higher and higher,” he said. “I've rented this house for nearly two months, but I've never seen it flood like this. The flood pollution has given me a little headache. My wife and I have decided to move to another place where there is no flood, to avoid danger.”