Residents protest at road plans

Source: Khmer Times

Residents are seeking clarity about the development from City Hall. KT/Chor Sokunthea

A group of 70 people from six communities in Phnom Penh have petitioned City Hall to clarify how the construction of rail side roads will affect them, amid fears they could lose their homes.
The group come from Akpiwat Thmey, Roum Chit Tae Mouy, village 17, village 104 and village 105 in Toul Kork district and village 2 in Daun Penh district.
Village 17 resident Nou Sarin said the government last year backed down on plans to build an expressway to the airport along the train route.
But early this year, district authorities and the Phnom Penh governor announced fresh plans to expand roads close to the old tracks.
Mr. Sarin called on officials to explain the project clearly and meet with residents who live nearby before development begins.
He said: “We support the government’s project and are not obstructing it. But we want the government to find appropriate solutions for the people living along the railway.”
Another resident, Meas Sreymom, added: “We are concerned about the announcement of the expansion. We just want City Hall to clarify what’s happening with the development.”
City Hall officials accepted the petition and said the residents had requested a meeting to discuss the issue on March 28. A spokesman said: “I have sent their letter to the relevant office to make a request to the governor, so we can’t respond to them immediately.”
Residents of eight communities along the railway have in the past protested in front of City Hall and the Transport Ministry, demanding officials host an open forum to explain the impact of the first project to build an expressway near their homes. Prime Minister Hun Sen eventually canceled the project to end the protests.
About 40 people representing more than 100 families who are affected by the satellite city development in Chroy Changvar district, meanwhile, submitted a petition to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office, requesting help to get appropriate compensation.
The move came after City Hall issued a one-month ultimatum that villagers cede up to 90 percent of their land for the project backed by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation.
Community representative Chea Sophat said the petition asks the government to intervene and overrule the ultimatum, provide land titles and work out compensation in accordance with the market prices land.
He said: “Please help us Prime Minister. We hope you can find a solution for us.”
Kong Chamroeun, the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, accepted the petition but declined to comment.
Sia Phearum, the executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said the protest showed how City Hall and government are failing to consult local residents on decisions that affect their lives.
He urged Phnom Penh authorities, the development company and residents to get around the negotiating table and find a solution to allow transparent development that is acceptable to all parties.

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