City Hall vows not to evict canal residents

Source: Khmer Times

Pa Socheatvong has assured residents they will not be evicted. Supplied

Phnom Penh authorities have assured city dwellers living along Stung Meanchey canal they will not face eviction as City Hall carries out plans to upgrade the waterway.
Governor Pa Socheatvong told residents in eight communities living along the canal in Meanchey district they will be given legal ownership to their homes to prevent unlawful evictions.
He explained the municipal administration will ask the government to divide up five by eight metre plots of land for families, as well as one metre of land both in front and behind the homes.
“We have to request the government and Prime Minister Hun Sen provide ownership to the citizens. The land size is small, but it’s legal ownership at least. At the moment they do not have legal ownership, even if their land is bigger,” he said.
He also asked local commune and village chiefs to collect census data for families living along canals, to ensure the statistics accurately reflect the number of people living there.
“We have already recorded family statistics. However, based on past experience, once we tackle a problem like this it always seems to increase the figure of people there, so it makes it difficult for us to handle. It’s already happened in Borei Keila, Boeung Kak and other places where the figures keep changing from what we first recorded,” he explained.
The upgrading of the canals was long overdue, Mr Socheatvong said, because most canals in the city overflow during rainy season, due to litter and sewage thrown in by people living nearby.
Municipal authorities are attempting to improve conditions to discourage waste disposal into the canal as well as to stop flooding.
The eight communities affected by the upgrades include Stung Prak Meanchey, Stung Meas Meanchey, Samaky Meanchey Thmey, Sovannaphum Meanchey, Preah Chan Krahom, Strey Samaky Meanchey, Meanchey Strey Akpiwat and Sonsom Prak Dermbey Akpiwat.
Citizen representative Dul Nheourn, who spoke on behalf of 26 families from Sonsom Prak Dermbey Akpiwat community, lauded city authorities for developing the canals.
“I am happy they’ve decided to carry out on-site development for us. They have already made this promise so we will wait and see if they put it to practice,” Ms Nheourn said.
“As for the five by eight plot of land, some people are not very happy but the majority can accept it. The most important thing is for the government to actually develop it.”
Equitable Cambodia executive director Eang Vuthy said residents are cautiously optimistic.
“The problem is that while the promise is good, there is nothing official like a formal written agreement to the citizens,” he said.

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