After about 4.5 million people joined the Water Festival last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen praised authorities for running a peaceful event free of any violence, noting that prevailing peace in the Kingdom was to credit for the festival’s success.
The festival, which ran from Wednesday to Friday, drew millions of visitors to the capital from the Kingdom’s provinces, with thousands lining the riverside to cheer on their hometown boats as they raced down the river during the races. The festival then ended with a volley of fireworks.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Hun Sen thanked officials for ensuring public order and safety during the massive event.
“Cambodia has peace and it has given us a chance to celebrate big festivals and attract millions of tourists this year,” Mr Hun Sen said.
National Police spokesman General Chhay Kim Khoeun on Saturday said about 4.5 million people attended the festival this year.Gen Kim Khoeun noted that 33 people were held by authorities, educated and then released for wearing shirts that said Police and Army. He added that 11 boats sank, but no one was injured.
“Security and public order were good,” Gen Kim Khoeun said. “There were a lot of people enjoying the festival and the boat races.”
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey yesterday said more than 8,000 tonnes of rubbish were collected during the festivities.
Mr Meas Pheakdey noted that the number of visitors to the festival increased when compared to last year.“We prepared and deployed bins for the festival, but we still saw some visitors littering,” he said. “This is because they do not understand how to manage rubbish. But most people cooperated and disposed of their rubbish properly.”
Colonel In Sreng, chief of the Interior Ministry’s weapons and explosives management and fire control office, yesterday said eight fires broke out during the festival, consuming five homes, but no one was injured. There were six during the festival last year.
The Interior Ministry’s traffic police and public order department yesterday said 38 accidents occurred during the festival, leaving 16 dead and 60 injured.
Sin Sitha, a Phnom Penh resident who visited the festival, said that she saw many security officers present during the festival.
Ms Sitha said she also saw many decorations posted along streets, in parks and nearby the Royal Palace.
“There were so many people – the streets were really crowded. However, people understood that there was no need for pushing and shoving,” Ms Sitha said. “I saw very nice decorations and the beautiful fireworks. My family and I truly enjoyed partaking in the Water Festival.”
Chem Phakdey, from Oddar Meanchey province, said yesterday that he and other villagers organised a truck to take them to Phnom Penh to see the boat races.
“My family and I come here every year in order to see the event – especially the boat races,” Mr Phakdey said.