Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cambodia Deploys 6,530 Polices to Provide Safety for Water Festival

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Royal Government of Cambodia has prepared a total of 6,530 armed forces including police forces and military police in order to provide safety and security for people during the celebration of the Water Festival in Phnom Penh. This year’s Water Festival will take place over three days from the 1st to 3rd November at the riverside, in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, said a Phnom Penh Police Commissariat Official.

Brigadier General Touch Naruth, Phnom Penh Police Commissariat Chief stated that the government has planned to deploy a total of 6,530 armed forces in Phnom Penh; including 4,586 police forces and 1, 944 military police. They will be deployed at every event site and all important checkpoints and main roads around Phnom Penh City for safety and security. General Touch Naruth said that the authority has also prepared machine boats, motor launches and other equipment and human resources such as rescue crews who may find themselves in difficulties as the races progress.

The General continued to inform that in order to relieve the crowding and traffic jams during the Water Festival, the authority will be not permitting unauthorized vans or trucks to enter or cross through Phnom Penh City. Authorities will also open or close nine main streets including National Road No. 6A, National Road No. 5, National Road No. 4, National Road No. 3, National Road No. 2, National Road No. 1, Street 598, Street 271, and Street 371 to moderate traffic congestion.

He added that the authority has also prepared hotlines to relevant police for receiving calls from both Cambodians and foreign visitors in case they have problems during the festivals. The hotline will serve 24 hours/day. The hotline numbers are 117 and 118.

“With these well planned preparations and strict measures, we hope that we will able to provide safety and security for the all people who join this year’s Water Festival in Phnom Penh. We commit to work hard in guaranteeing the safety and security for our people in Cambodia,” he said.

He estimated that about three million people will join the celebration of Water festival and boat race in Phnom Penh this year.

Chea Sokhom, Secretary-General of the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals (NCONIF), said there are a total of 391 boats with 25,384 people including 300 women from cities and province across the nation that will attend this year’s boat race in Phnom Penh.

Chea Sokhom said that there are a total of 9 lanterns that will also participate in this year’s Water Festival celebration while there were 22 lanterns in 2008.

He continued to say that last year there were a total of 424 boats with over 2,600 people attending the boats race in Phnom Penh. 144 boats won gold medals, 123 boats won silver medals, 92 boats won bronze medals and another 28 boats also won fourth for brave runners-up.

He added that this year’s Water Festival Celebration and boat race will be presided over by His Majesty the King Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, Samdech Chea Sim, Senate President, Samdech Heng Samrin, National Assembly President and Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia, and other government’s officials.

According to Cambodian documents and history, the Water Festival in Cambodia takes place each year in October or November, at the time of the full moon, and is the most extravagant and exuberant festival in the Khmer calendar, outdoing even the new year celebrations.

The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time that the river flow reverts to its normal down-stream direction. In a remarkable phenomenon, the Tonle Sap River earlier reverses its course as the rainy season progresses, with the river flowing "upstream" to Tonle Sap Lake. When the rainy season tapers off, the river changes direction once again and the swollen Tonle Sap Lake begins to empty back into the Mekong River. Vast quantities of fish are obtainable as a result of this unique ecosystem. //////

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