– Your Venerable Samdech Preah Moha Somethea Tepdei NGUN NGET, Head of Monks,
– Your Venerable Monks,
– Your Excellency Masafumi Kuroki, Japan’s Ambassador to Cambodia,
– Mr. Yasujiro Suzuki, Director of JICA in Cambodia,
– Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all the compatriots,
Today it is my privilege and pleasure to be here to inaugurate all achievements of the Stage II Flood Protection and Sewage System Improvement Project in Phnom Penh which is one of many grants provided by the Government of Japan. I would like to congratulate Venerable Samdech Preah Somethea Thepdei, Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Oknhas, ladies and gentlemen and especially Phnom Penh residents who will enjoy the enormous benefit from what being inaugurated today.
Along with this, I would like to convey my profound thanks, through Excellency Ambassador Masafumi Kuroki and Mr. Yasujiro Suzuki, to the people and Government of Japan for providing grants to restore and build Phnom Penh Municipality. Along with this, I would like to praise the Municipality of Phnom Penh and all related institutions for the concerted effort that results in what we see today.
According to Excellency Kep Chuk Tema, the governor of Phnom Penh, stage one flood protection and sewage upgrade project was successfully implemented and inaugurated on September 29, 2004. The first stage of the project has rescued the southern and southwestern part of Phnom Penh including a part of Khan Odor Meanchey, Chamkamorn, and Toulkork from the possible threat of flooding of the Mekong river system and helped reduce the flood level of the rainy season. Today, we are inaugurating new achievements of the second Stage of the Project i.e. flood protection and sewage system improvement in Phnom Penh Municipality under the grant of the Japanese government, which took place since 17th September 2007, with a value of approximately 2,182,307,000 Japanese Yen, equivalent to around 19,022,900 US Dollars. Under this project we have repaired the 70-meter long Tonle Sap River bank in front of Chaktomuk Conference Hall and the 260-meter long river bank between road No. 106 and road No. 130. Moreover, with the grant we also upgraded the sewage capacity of Central and Kandal Market, Royal Palace, National Museum, Wat Phnom, constructed water pumping station and underground reservoir at Psar Chas and Kandal Market, Preah Komlung and Chaktomuk, and have laid out drainage pipe along key boulevards, riverside and Sisowat Boulevard. Through this, I would like to support the request for implementing Stage III of the project to reduce flood level in Beung Tra Bek area of the Southern part of Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh city has undergone history of sweetness and bitterness including misery and happiness, once a ghost city now turned into a paradise that is lively, fresh, secured and safe. Phnom Penh used to be the city that was formed and abandoned, then reselected as the capital city, between Preahbat Punheayat era from 1435 to 1865 after then there was no more relocation. Specifically, from 1435 to 1497, the Royal Palace was situated in Phnom Penh, then moved to Angkor city, then from Angkor city to Pusat, from Pusat to Boribo, from Boribo to Udong, and eventually moved back to Phnom Penh in 1865. Phnom Penh city used to be deemed as the Pearl of Asia and has made a lot progress in term economic and social development. Phnom Penh is situated on the intersection of the Mekong River and Basac River resides by about 2 million people and possesses huge development potential and is the key source of economic growth. Indeed, Cambodians and foreigners can clearly witness Cambodian development when they come to visit Phnom Penh. The surge in new buildings, vehicles, and various goods reveal the improvement and progress of Cambodia’s society, economic, culture and art to become a modern society in the modern world. In this regard, at present as well as in the future we have to continue working together to develop the capital so that it will become a pivotal source for economic growth and represent the sophistication of the Cambodia’s society in modern time.
Truly, Phnom Penh capital city is a center that has a great potential for the development of the country, and has a very important role to play for supporting economic growth if it has been continuously and sustainably revived, built and developed. Nowadays although Phnom Penh capital city has already made many achievements we still observe that there are many other tasks that we need to continue our efforts to revive, build and develop. The priority areas include traffic jams, residential planning, environmental protection, flood protection and sewage system renovation. Floods and environmental pollution in Phnom Penh are caused by nature as well human activities; and that requires planning for flood protection and sewage system renovation, as well as the understanding and caution about natural phenomena and active participation of citizens in reviving, building and developing Phnom Penh capital.
I understand that we have to be highly attentive on all these issues as floods and sewage system can negatively impact the beauty of the city, environment, hygiene and living quality of our people. Based on my observations, most Cambodian families, particularly the poor ones in Phnom Penh capital are living in new areas or areas that have no proper physical infrastructure especially the sewage system. As a result, the waste dumping in such areas causes flooding, contaminates the water, emits foul odor and becomes a source of diseases.
Moreover, I have also observed that even at places with proper sewage system, street flooding still takes place, especially when there are heavy rain. There are many reasons causing street flooding in Phnom Penh capital, such as heavy rain making some sewages unable to timely absorb the flood water; while some other sewages are filled with wastes clotting the water flow. Furthermore, waste dumping into the sewage system, the increasingly shallow sewages, and the lack of vehicles and equipment to pump water from sewages are also factors causing street flooding in the city. In this regard, I would like to request the Phnom Penh municipality to impose and implement necessary measures, to revive the sewage system, to provide vehicles and sewage water pumping equipment and widely educate people to effectively participate in flood protection in the city.
In partticular, we have to also pay further attention to the damage of the river bank to prevent the water from flooding Phnom Penh capital city because it will not only cause the flood but also cast negative impact on the production, supply, consumption of goods and services, and the settlement of people, who live around the river bank. Having river bank made of cement is our desire in order to prevent the flood in various important areas that can receive the threat of river bank collapse and flooding. In this connection, we cannot repair or build the river bank in all parts of the riversides, especially in rural area due to the fact that the flood prevention system would need much finance which is more than the cost of spending to pay for the prevention of flood itself.
The risk and challenge for Phnom Penh city truly require the Royal Government of Cambodia to continue taking measures and prevention with the participation from all related ministries/institutions and our people. The Royal Government has clearly stated that Phnom Penh City Hall is the main player to rebuild and develop Phnom Penh city. Taking this opportunity, I would like to suggest the Phnom Penh City Hall to continue studying in details the flood prevention project and improving the sewage system in Phnom Penh-Phase 3 with highly effective implementation and responsibility. At the same time, the City Hall, Ministry of Information and all relevant ministries/institutions have to highly pay attention to the dissemination, education of people to participate in preventing flood and repairing canals/sewage systems, pipe, especially throwing waste improperly.
The new achievement that we will inaugurate soon is our national achievement which is resulted from the right consideration made by the Royal Government of Cambodia with the efforts of other relevant ministries/institutions, Phnom Penh City Hall, the Government of Japan and all stakeholders. Once Again, I would like to congratulate and highly appreciate the Phnom Penh City Hall and all private companies that have put greatest efforts in renovating and building various achievements, witnessed today. At the same time, I would like to deeply thank the people and Government of Japan for having always assisted Cambodia in rebuilding the country. Along with that, I would like to appeal to all compatriots and all levels of competent authorities to fully participate and cooperation in order to sustainably maintain this achievement for the common interest of our people as well as for the historical legacy of our nation.
At the end, together with the inauguration of achievements of the flood prevention projects and the improvement of sewage system/drainage in the capital city of Phnom Penh-Phase 2, which is the grant from Japan, May I wish the Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.