Railway families given deadline

Families living along the railway line hold a protest in their bid for compensation. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Families living along the railway line hold a protest in their bid for compensation. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Nearly 100 families affected by a railway land dispute have been given a 30-day ultimatum to accept compensation or lose it.
The demand came from an inter-ministerial committee set up to resolve the cases of three  families in Banteay Meanchey province and 94 families in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo, Daun Penh, Por Senchey and Sen Sok districts.
The railway upgrade was agreed between Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha in December 2015.
The plan is for a Phnom Penh to Bangkok link as part of a plan to boost trade to $20 billion by 2020.
The committee said a working group of inter-ministerial and local authorities had agreed on additional compensation for people who were affected and whose affected land in Phnom Penh and Poipet was smaller than 30 square meters.
However, 97 families could not be contacted by the working group despite notifications being sent out.
The committee has sent a final notice to these families to accept the additional compensation within 30 days starting yesterday.
“If the citizens still do not appear and won’t accept the provisions from the date above, the inter-ministerial committee will consider them as discarding the compensation and will turn the compensation over to the government as a contribution to the railway development project,” the announcement said.
Chheng Bunhak, who is affected by the project in Poipet, said in addition to the three families who have yet to receive compensation, there are also another 114 families with documents who have not yet received proper compensation.
“Some families get nothing, some families got $20, $30, $50. How can they live?” he said.
“The government did not obey its own policy, so this development is built on people’s tears.”
Mr. Bunhak said representatives of citizens who have not yet received compensation have protested 51 times to demand the authorities speed up a solution for them.
Transport Ministry spokesman Ly Borin could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Borin previously told Khmer Times that the Poipet citizens who protested were not covered by the railway development project because the authorities had provided for citizens whose land was within 3.5 meters of the rail line.
Late last year, about 170 families in Por Senchey district submitted a petition at the Ministry of Land Management because they were worried about being evicted by the railway rehabilitation project.
Sum Chankea, the Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said compensation for citizens varied. Some got money without land, some got only money and others received both money and land.
He said that the authorities should provide land, housing and compensation to the three families.
Authorities should end disputes by giving explanations to other people who are protesting, he added.

Source: Khmer Times

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