Joined by senior ministers, ministers, members of parliament, and the Senate, the National Assembly and related authorities, I am coming here today to see you all and to observe our people’s hardships as caused by flooding in the course of torrential rain in the last few days. HE Nhem Vanda, the first deputy director of the National Committee for the Disaster Management has been here since yesterday. It is indeed our priority to see that you all are well taken care of.
The disaster caused by the torrential rains hit hard on the region as a whole, and Cambodia has suffered it too. I wish to take this time to express my condolence to the death of one man in relation to this incident. So far we have noticed that four provinces bordering on sea – Kompot, Keb, Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, including one part of Kompong Speu suffered from this torrential flooding. As we have taken precautious measures the degree of destruction has been kept in a minimal rate. Thanks to measures taken by the local authority from provincial to the village levels, flood-related death – for humans as well as for animals and flood-related destruction of property have all been minimal.
In this situation I wish to take this opportunity to issue for the first time certain measures and some consideration to authorities related, in Kompot province as well as in other places. First of all people suffered from the flood incident must be evacuated to high ground so that no one would lose his/her life, because of this natural disaster. Further, the local authorities of all levels must take precautious measure in reaching out to people who might have been trapped in their rural flooded residences so that they could be brought, by all means, to high and safe ground.
These measures are instructed to be taken not only in Kompot province or the district of Kompong Bay in Kompot but to all affected areas in the country so as to avoid life threatening incidents. I wish to also urge every affected family to take care and keep watch of their children and keep them from playing in the water, though some of them may know how to swim. Some people may not need to be evacuated this far if there is safe ground all around but a life support service must reach them no matter where they settle. I wish to reiterate the Royal Government’s policy once again that no one should be left to die from hunger because of our ignorance at all.
Another point of concern is that as usual when there is flood at this level, there normally are problems of poisonous creatures taking refuge in human residence too. It is in the concern that there normally are water-born and /or contagious diseases, and I have here with me HE Minister Nut Sokhom, Minister of Health, focus on healthcare should be primary task during and after the flood recession. We must use everything we have in hand to prevent those situations from happening. For the time being we must make use of all health services – civil, military and police – so as to keep this matter under control. We are facing here a situation of lacking clean water as we can see here in the Kompot city flood has messed up the waste water and supply water system together. So it is a must that water must be boiled properly before consumption.
As far as area under destruction by flood according to my bird’s eye-view from helicopter, the size reported should only be the area affected by flood and necessarily the area under rice cultivation that is under destruction. More than that the area under rice as it is flooded by the flow of torrential rain may not be totally damaged as this would depend on how long would the flood stay in the field and whether it is a still or flowing water. According to normal practice, in short flooding, some rice grows even better after the water recedes. It is indeed true that when the rice fields are facing a heavy current of water, the rice in the field would be washed away too.
To redress possible damages as caused by this flood, I urge HE Minister for Agriculture Chan Sarun to consider planning a common bed for rice seedling so that the problem of lacking of rice seedling could be addressed in a timely manner. It would be impractical and not helpful to provide them with rice seed at this moment because of timing and level of water in our people’s rice fields. It would be more practical to provide them with rice seedling as it would save them time of growing the seeds.
HE Sun Chan Thol, Minister for Transports and Public Works is also here and we have an infrastructure issue to be dealt with. The flood happens along the national road 3 and also the national road 4. This time we have a serious problem to tackle as along the national road 3 there is this railway that needs to be properly inspected right after the flood recession. In the meantime no heavy truck load is allowed or it would damage the road. This matter should be taken care of till after the water recession. The railway operation from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh should also be under similar treatment. I have talked to the Ministry of Economy and Finance to prepare some budget for time of necessity. We all know that redressing the infrastructure would require higher payment than emergency relief.
Yesterday I have instructed HE Sun Chan Thol to divert shipment of export goods that are usually going to the blue water port of Sihanoukville to the port service in Phnom Penh. As you all can see that flooding caused problems not only to you here on the spot but throughout the country. It is barring imports as well as exports services. All ministries concerned should try to coordinate goods on order to be catered through the Phnom Penh International Airports, the Phnom Penh River Port or even all the way to the Seaport in Vietnam.
It is worth noting that flood affected Kompot always since HE Saom Chen was the Governor of the province. As we have HE Lim Kean Hor, Minister for Water Resources and Meteorology here, I would recommend that a study is to be conducted to find out means to release water from mountain slopes quickly to the sea. Kompot is a transit city to Kep – a tourist city and there are slopes in which water from the mountain is collected before releasing into the river and down to the sea. We should look into the experience we had in releasing flood from the western side of Phnom Penh to going through the national road 2 and to a huge lake from there. We should think of making waterway up to 200 or 300 meter wide so that water could move faster to the sea.
I also have ordered that some water must be released from the water catching system in Kirirom hydro power station and HE Minister Suy Sem is looking after the matter on that side. In all I wish to reassure our people that the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself as the Prime Minister would not let you die from hunger because of ignorance or leave you in a state that is unable to recover your livelihood. I would urge local authorities, related institutions and the armed forces, more than that the members of parliament and the Senate, to stay close to our people and to act for their safety and livelihood support./.