… May I first of all ask our people for an excuse that I did in fact postpone the inauguration of the embankment to this time from the date I had decided earlier on April 29, when I was travelling to Bangkok for the ASEAN + China Summit on SARS. Today we also have the royal ploughing ceremony in Phnom Penh but I have to take my self here to meet with our people and to inaugurate the Phdao Chum Embankment for the protection of flood. The 2000 flood was the greatest in our history and it has left our people living along the Mekong River a great many difficulties. This area was under constant threat like the one in the Kob Srov Embankment area. We have 7142 families living and their farms are cultivated behind the embankment and they would be in danger once the flood breaks the bank through. But our people had acted jointly to maintain it.
… HE Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor has just made a report for us that the strengthening and standardizing of the bank has finished, which gives our people many benefits. First, our people would be able to cultivate more crops. Second, our people in five communes of the Choeung Prey district would be well protected from eventual flooding that could be caused by breaks of the bank. Third, the bank could be used as road between one section of the national road 6A in Batheay and the market of Skun. The reconstruction process has been done in three stages – first in 2000, we had made firm a distance of 4500 metres, second, we have mended 7650 metres and third, we have finished the rest of 4500 metres. We have financed the project with loans from the Asian Development Bank and the Royal Government has contributed its counterpart fund of a sum of US$ 512,852.34. This means that the Royal Government has tried to generate income while cutting down expenses so that its saving could be used in line with the ADB loan for the people’s interest in the area.
… As we drink water, we have to think of its sources, I would wish to recall a little about the history of the bank. According to available documents, the bank was under a study in 1936, when the French was controlling Cambodia, with an aim to protect the area from flood. The first stage of construction was in late 1942 and early 1943. Our people were gathered by the French to build it. The second stage of construction was in 1944 from the point of Pur Vetika to the point of Kork Roveang and all the way to the national road 6. A number of engines had been used along with human labour forces. In the third stage between 1948 and 1949 more construction was done and it was then called “Tumnub Baraing or the French Bank.” In 1962 a big flood damaged the bank, after the maintenance by the Ministry of Agriculture, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk came for a visit to the construction site and Samdech had in fact ordered for a reconstruction. By early 1970 the Phdao Chum Embankment was inaugurated under the presence of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk.
… There were no records kept under the Pol Pot regime on this bank. But in the period of 1983 and 1984, with helps from LWS, etc. the Department of Hydrology of the Ministry of Agriculture had been placed with responsibility to improve the bank condition… By 1992, the Phdao Chum embankment was restored again with help from UNDP after the Paris Peace Agreement. I am also glad today to have the presence of HE the representative of ADB as the latter had offered Cambodia to get loans after Cambodia had repaid all its previous debt.
… I wish to make an appeal as follows: let’s our people take part in taking care of the bank with helps from the Ministry of Water Resources and the local authority. Rural development could be attained only when there is participation of the people who benefit from the project. All works should be involved by the people as is outlined in the Royal Government’s policy of decentralization through the empowerment of people. On the forthcoming of July 27, our people will exercise their rights by going to vote for whomever they could entrust with the leadership duty. We have as of today 25 political parties and they should feel safe and no threats at all. Threats and violence that would harm anyone’s life are illegal and persons committing the crimes would be brought to punishment according to law. Another appeal I wish to make is we all have to make use of the Phdao Chum Embankment so that our people could start growing long-term crops in replacement of short-term ones. Heavy loaded trucks should be forbidden from driving on the bank.
Samdech Hun Sen on that occasion offered a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Prey Cha, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Hun Sen-Phdao Chum and 70 tons of rice for labour to the people in the commune of Sdoeung Chey.