Residents of communities along a stretch of land running from a railway in the Boeung Kak area to National Road 5 have again asked City Hall for information about the recently started road construction which will destroy their homes and leave them with few options.
More than 50 people representing 1,144 families living in communities along the railway – Chivit Thmey, Mitpheap, Plov Rut Plerng, Tuol Sangke A, Tuol Sangke B, Tuol Sangke C, Phum 23, Phum Pi, Phum 21 and Kroal Kor communities – gathered in front of City Hall yesterday to criticize the government for failing to follow through on its promises.
The government said it would give more information about the road to local residents before construction started, but no local community members have been told anything about work on the road, which started last month.
Long Chandy, a community representative from Tuol Sangke B, said City Hall had already concreted over a section of railway, but the people affected have almost no information about what will happen to their homes, where they will be forced to move to or the compensation they will receive.
They sent a petition to City Hall asking for more information about the project, but have had no response or reply. The community members, he said, are worried they will lose their land and not receive any compensation or new land to move to.
“We have not received any solution or a date for a solution, so that has made people come back to ask what the solution will be, and the compensation, and where they will get land in return,” he said.
“Because if we have not yet discussed the compensation, people are worried about their houses and their children’s schools. The opportunities to earn money have decreased.”
Kilomet Lek 6 commune representative Seun Thaithanh said the new road development has already affected 400 families and 800 more will face difficult choices when construction crews continue the road.
On December 20, City Hall started construction on the concrete road from the railway station to the Boeung Kak area, saying it was to “expand the traffic system in Phnom Penh.”
But for more than a year, local residents have asked the government to tell them what will happen to their homes before starting construction, pleading with City Hall to give them some idea of whether they will be offered compensation for their land or new plots elsewhere in the city.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said a working team has just completed a “citizen census,” but that the figures had not been calculated.
He told Khmer Times the government will set a date to meet local residents next week and will provide compensation to those affected by the situation, a similar statement to one he made one year ago.
He dismissed the concerns and complaints of local residents, saying they have no reason to worry despite the impending destruction of their homes.
“We [City Hall] have already told them to calm down and not to worry about that concern as the governor has announced that City Hall will not construct the road if a solution has not been found for the citizens who are affected,” Mr. Meas Pheakdey said, despite residents confirming that construction of the road had started and homes had been moved or demolished.
“Please do not worry that their houses will be cleared before they decide to accept the solution policy.”
Sia Phearum, the executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said this was a common tactic by the government, who in the past had frequently failed to notify residents and consult with them before taking over plots of land or destroying homes.
“The citizens are concerned because of the pain of past experiences when they hear about developments, so the authorities have to discuss and show the development project plan clearly to prevent people from being dissatisfied,” he said.
“In order for development to be sustainable, it must have the participation of relevant parties, especially the victims, so that the can raise any challenges that might arise.”
Sam Piseth, the director of the city’s public works and transport department, said the road will be about 4.5 kilometers long and will start on Street 70 in Boeung Kak and continue to National Road 5 in Russey Keo district. City Hall said it will take about five months to build.
Source: Khmer Times