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COVID slows work on Bak Kheng water plant

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Work on Bak Kheng water treatment plant in northeast Phnom Penh remains slow. Supplied

Work on the construction of Bakkheng I water treatment plant is progressing slowly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bakkheng water treatment plants I and II are located in the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh. Bak Kheng Water Treatment Plant I will be capable of producing 195,000 cubic metres per day, the same as Bakheng II.

Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority’s (PPWSA’s) Director-General Sim Sitha said that work on the construction had begun but there not much progress as the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Around 10 percent has been achieved. The construction will take three years and six months, therefore there has not been much progress on this,” Sitha added, saying work started in May this year.

Once the Bakheng I plant is put in operation in 2022, it will have a production capacity of 195,000 cubic metres per day. The project will cost around $240 million. Work on the Bakkheng II plant, which wouldproduce 195,000 cubic metres of water a day, will start by 2022 and end two years later.

Bakkheng is the largest European investment project in Cambodia co-financed
by several European and Cambodian partners. The EU grant will help guarantee the right of Phnom Penh’s poorest communities to have access to safe and affordable water.

The infrastructure will improve the quality of life for 700,000 people in the city. It is a long-term investment in the country`s resilience to a pandemic such as COVID-19 because it provides steady access to clean drinking water, critical for effective crisis mitigation.

This massive project is expected to have a major impact in terms of people getting access to clean water but also it will create jobs, which is very important during the current pandemic.

Oum Sotha, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, said the government is now preparing the major network plan for the project. The technical team is also working to complete the master plan on the raw water pumping station, engineering works, electrical system, and architectural design of the whole project. These works are 50 percent complete.

Sotha added as part of the project, the PPWSA will also build a bridge to carry the water network across the Tonle Sap River in northeastern Phnom Penh to distribute it to residents.

“We have encountered some issues caused by COVID-19 because we need foreign experts on this job,” he added.

He said production capacity to serve the people in Phnom Penh city and Ta Khmao Town is now around 560,000 cubic metre per day. However, demand is more than 600,000 cubic metres per day.

Sotha added there is enough water provision in the city but the government thinking is about demand for water on the outskirts and the prevalence of new high-rise buildings and their residents across the city. “Our capacity has yet fully responded to the demand, but we try our best to supply it to the people,” Sotha added.

In 2021, the production capacity will remain at about 600,000 cubic metres per day but the demand will keep increasing year-on-year. The number of actual clients has increased from 390,067 in 2019 up to 410,067 this year and is estimated to be 430,067 in 2021, 450,067 in 2022 and 470,067 in 2023.

At present there are four main water treatment plants: Phum Prek, which has a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres per day (m3/d), Chroy Changvar, which manages 130,000 m3/d, Chamkarmon, which provides 52,000 M3/d, and Niroth, with 260,000 m3/d – a total of 592,000 m3/d.

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