Source: Khmer Times / Thursday, 05 May 2016 by Pav Suy
More than 30 people from eight communities living along the Stung Meanchey canal gathered yesterday to submit petitions requesting meetings with the Ministry of Land Management and City Hall.
The residents, representing 435 families, hope to use the meetings to discuss a proposed on-site development plan after nearly eight months since their last petition about it was filed.
The development includes building roads as well as homes along the canal to improve the living standards of the families now housed in corrugated iron and wooden shacks.
Community representative Pou Chanthan said the residents were re-submitting their petition after they saw no government action in response to their last petition.
“For us, from all eight communities and 435 families, we want on-site development. We filed the first petition on September 23, 2015, to the district governor, Ministry of Land Management and City Hall. Since then there is no action,” she said.
The Stung Meanchey sewage canal runs roughly 1,470 meters.
District authorities have previously accused the residents of causing stagnation in the canal and blocking its flow of water, leading to flooding.
Ms. Chanthan said the residents have been in limbo since October 20, 2010, when district authorities first brought accusations of choking the canal with garbage against them, ordering all residents to vacate the area within 15 days.
However, after seeking intervention from City Hall and the Ministry of Land Management, they continued to live along the canal.
Concerns for the residents reemerged in 2014, however, when plans for a new sewage system and canals throughout Phnom Penh were announced by governor Pa Socheatvong as part of the capital’s 2035 Master Plan.
Heang Sokun, coordinator of the Coalition for Community with Equitable Cambodia, said the claims regarding the residents being at fault for clogging the canal were untrue.
“I have witnessed the residents cleaning the canal on a timely basis. City Hall should heed their request because they have lived in the area for a long time and have properly taken care of the canal,” Mr. Sokun said.
Yesterday the petitions were accepted by both City Hall and the Ministry of Land Management.
Administration chief Ol Sok Youy of the Ministry of Land Management, who met the residents to accept the petition, said a decision would be given within a week.
Mr. Socheatvong, who met the residents to accept their petition on behalf of City Hall, said that a meeting to discuss the on-site development would be held between City Hall and 16 representatives from the families living along the canal on Monday. A working group will visit their communities on Saturday and Sunday to assess them, he added.
When asked if she is optimistic about the development, Ms. Chanthan said she was.
“We believe that the governor will fulfill our request.”