Source: Khmer Times
Phnom Penh authorities yesterday gave the remaining 15 families from the Borei Keila community one month to accept a settlement and end their long-running land dispute.
City vice-governor Mean Chanyada said the dispute was complicated because resident numbers from the beginning of the dispute were unclear.
And the development of the site had taken a long time, during which more and more claimants had come forward.
In 2003, the government provided Borei Keila land to the Phan Imex company for development as apartments.
In return, the company was to build 10 blocks of flats for more than 1,700 families who were displaced.
However, the company built only eight buildings which led to continuing protests. The company and authorities say the protesters do not qualify for a home in the area.
The authorities say they have resolved 90 percent of the cases of the 154 families who protested, with only 15 families refusing to accept the settlement.
Mr. Chanyada said the authorities had given a month deadline for the people to accept the final settlement, in which eight families with sufficient documents will get a house of four meters by five meters in the Andong village plus $2,000 or $5,000 and no house.
The seven families with no documents will receive $3,000.
“Once this time has expired, we will not be responsible for dealing with the Borei Keila area any more,” he said.
City Hall also plans build a fence between the land managed by Phan Imex and the community, build a road behind the eight buildings, prepare an order for a market in the Borei Keila community and create a new village in each building for easy management and rescues in emergencies.
Phan Imex owner Suy Sophan said the land dispute in Borei Keila had dragged on not because of the company or municipal authority, but because resident numbers kept rising.
She agreed with the city authorities’ solution to the problem.
Sar Sorn, whose family is one of the 15 still in dispute, said they cannot accept the deadline.
“They took our land to develop for apartments,” she said.
“It’s inappropriate that they require us to live at Andong village. We will only accept a house at Borei Keila. And if there is no house for us, they must compensate appropriately so that we can buy a house at Borei Keila.”
Sia Phearum, the executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, agreed with the authorities’ action to seek solutions.
He encouraged the remaining citizens to negotiate peacefully with the authorities to resolve the dispute.
Meanwhile, more than 50 former Borei Keila people representing 140 families who live in the Phnom Bat community in Kandal province also gathered to protest in front of City Hall demanding more compensation.
Citizen representative Kim Saran said they were sent to live in Phnom Bat almost six years ago.
It is a remote area with no clean water and a lack of jobs, which make it hard to survive, she said.
She asked authorities and Phan Imex to provide more compensation and give them land titles so they could not be evicted again by the company.
Mr. Chanyada said the former Borei Keila residents had accepted a settlement and authorities cannot solve their problems again.
However, city authorities said the municipality leader will cooperate with Kandal provincial authorities to check the living conditions of the people on the site and prepare infrastructure improvements soon.