Source: Khmer Times
LAND Minister Chea Sophara has told two firms to reopen a public road they fenced off without permission.
The order came after 127 families affected by the closure complained about Phanimex and Ly Heng companies in August last year.
A ministry working group and local authorities inspected the dirt road which connects Road 369 to National Road 1 and was used by Prek Thmey, Prek Pra and Veal Sbov communes in the Chbar Ampov district of Phnom Penh.
“In the past, villagers used this public road,” the ministry order said.
“Phanimex and Heng Ly companies cut it off and built a fence to block it.
“To serve the public interest, the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction asks those two companies to connect and open the public road, keeping a width of 16 meters for normal village use.”
However, Phanimex director Suy Sophan denied her company was involved in blocking the road.
“Heng Ly company built the fence to block it,” she said.
“I am happy to obey the ministry because when it is opened up my land will be expensive.”
Liv Vantheng, Prek Thmey commune chief, confirmed that Oknha Heng Ly’s company built a concrete wall two to three years ago to protect Mr. Ly’s property.
“In the past it was a hilly road that villagers could only use during the dry season but later on land brokers made it into a dirt road to increase the value of their land,” Mr. Vantheng said.
This road was about 5m wide and 3,000m long.
“Oknha Heng Ly built the concrete fence to protect his property from troublemakers,” he added.
He said the district land registration chief had told Mr. Ly about the ministry’s letter but hasd not yet had a response from him.
“We have not yet seen any intervention from the companies,” he said.
Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force, welcomed the ministry measure to open the road.
“We urge the companies to follow the ministry directive because those companies have a huge amount of land in that area,” Mr. Phearum said.
Asked if it was illegal for a company to block a public road, Mr. Phearum said, “Local authorities did not clear a master plan for the management of the land. We have seen the authorities earn monthly salaries of about one million riel ($250) but they drive Lexus SUVs.”
Mr. Ly was not available for comment, nor was district land registration chief Lim Ty.
Seng Lot, spokesman for the Ministry of Land Management, could not be reached for comment.