Source : Khmer Times
Kampong Chhnang provincial authorities have started to relocate more than 2,300 Cham and Vietnamese families living on the Tonle Sap river to dry land in order to clean up the environment.
Provincial Governor Chhour Chandoeun yesterday said that authorities have started to move the 2,397 families out in stages and hope to complete the work by the end of the year.
“The decision was made in 2015 and we have been working out the details,” he said. “A taskforce will now move people so that there won’t be anyone living on floating houses on the river by the year’s end.”
Mr Chandoeun noted that the relocation is being done to ensure a clean environment and avoid anarchic living conditions on the river.
Brigadier General Ke Bunrith, Kampong Chhnang provincial deputy police chief and head of the taskforce in Kampong Tralach district, yesterday said that of the 56 families living on floating houses in the district, 20 moved out yesterday evening.
He noted that some moved to a location provided by authorities while others rented land to live on.
“We had already informed them about the relocation and they cooperated,” he said. “Some of them moved to the location the authorities arranged, while others asked to rent land near the river so that they could fish.”
“We agreed to their request, so there was no problem relocating them,” he added.
Chroeng Yang, a Vietnamese national living on the river, said yesterday that nearly ten families had relocated to live in a location which authorities and Vietnamese associations arranged for them.
He noted that his family did not move out yet because the location was far away from the river and did not have adequate infrastructure.
“The location they asked me to stay in is about two kilometres away and has no toilets and no electricity,” he said. “So, I will temporarily live on the river bank first, because I need to look after my fishing equipment there.”
“We would like to ask for the new location to have infrastructure, including a proper road, toilets and electricity before we move there,” Mr Yang added.
Toth Kimsroy, a provincial coordinator with the Minority Rights Organisation, said authorities must prepare adequate infrastructure for those being moved out and requested that they be relocated not far from fishing grounds so that they can sustain their livelihoods.
“Although some of them are Vietnamese immigrants, they have lived there for many years,” Mr Kimsroy said. “They are fishermen, so authorities should find a suitable location for them to live.”