Villagers make a statement to local media asking authorities to stop dredging sand for a port development in Preah Sihanouk province late last week. Facebook
Villagers make a statement to local media asking authorities to stop dredging sand for a port development in Preah Sihanouk province late last week. Facebook

Gov says dredging OK, but alludes to payouts

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Governor Yun Min yesterday defended the dredging of sand for the development of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s new multipurpose terminal, despite objections from locals who claim their livelihoods have been affected.

At the same time, however, Min also urged the company ASKL Services and Construction to pay compensation to families if they have indeed been affected. Min said a team that assessed the environmental impact prior to the project concluded that “impact” is “unavoidable” during any development, but only minimal ones had been identified.

“We urged the company to pay compensation,” he said. “The company said it was willing to compensate if fish were dying because of the dredging.”

The Ministry of Mines and Energy earlier this week said it had halted the dredging and discussed a potential solution after 14 families complained. The families had requested $50,000 each in compensation.

Soun Sokhom, 37, who depends on the local fisheries, said that since the company began to dredge, anywhere between 30 and 40 fish die every day. “The water has become very muddy and polluted,” he said.

ASKL’s Min Muny said the company would compensate the families if it’s asked by the government to do so. “That would be a government’s decision.”

Ministry representative Chhe Lidin said the dredging will cease until a solution is reached.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro