Source: Khmer Times | Mon, 19 September 2016, by Pech Sotheary
City Hall said villagers affected by the development project of the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district would have two months to claim the certificate of land policy before it would stop assuming responsibility for losses, according to a statement released yesterday.
“So far the Phnom Penh administration has given options to the land owners affected by this development project to receive the certificate for land policy which accounts for 10 percent of original land, but a number of people have not come to claim them yet,” Phnom Penh deputy governor Khoung Sreng said in the statement dated on Wednesday.
He added that to accelerate the development of physical infrastructure including roads, an underground sewage system and to hasten development of the area according to the master plan, the Phnom Penh administration appealed to land owners who had yet to claim the certificate to do so at City Hall, saying they would have two months from the date of the announcement.
“The Phnom Penh administration will no longer take responsibility for any loss of benefits regarding the land plot of brothers and sisters,” Mr. Sreng said.
In late April, City Hall made announcements about the land policy, but the order was defied and the affected people demanded their land be cut off from the development project using the “tiger skin” method where “stripes” of land would incorporate the villagers’ homes and land.
The villagers demanded $400 per square meter according to the market price, or 50 percent of the original land they owned as a concession to City Hall for development.
Chea Soohat, a representative of the affected residents, said yesterday the people living in the six communities in Chroy Changvar’s three communes will keep their stance to demand a proper solution because they have lived on the land since 1991-1992 and have the legal documents issued by local authorities.
“We cannot accept that. I have occupied the land since before Chroy Changvar was connected [by bridge] because I thought that they would not take it from us like this,” he said.
“Now in 2016, a sub-decree was issued ordering the seizure of our land as the City Hall’s property as if they robbed our personal property from us and rented it to the OCIC. Where do such laws and regulations come from?”
He added that they would continue to protest for intervention from relevant institutions after the Pchum Ben holiday.
However, City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada said the remaining 200-plus families who disagreed with the new land policy could request negotiation with City Hall within the two-month period and solve it through legal channels.
“They already knew this was state-owned land frozen from buying and selling. However, the stance of City Hall will make brothers and sisters lose benefits, meaning what they bought originally. We will try to coordinate and won’t let them lose what they bought,” he said.
Sie Phearum, the executive director at Housing Rights Taskforce, said: “The Phnom Penh City Hall and the company should take whatever solution is acceptable for the people, otherwise both City Hall and the company are violating the people’s rights and this will lead to the loss of votes for the ruling party.”