60 Families Refuse to Allow Road-Widening

Sixty families from a Phnom Penh neighborhood have banded together in defiance of a city order, refusing to abandon their land so the municipality can widen a road, a representative for the families said Monday.

Tuol Kok district Governor Seng Ratanak issued a statement August 4 ordering all households occupying the tracts to either side of street 566 in the district to move so the road could be widened.

The Kim Kuch Development Company, a property owner in the targeted area, re­ceived permission from the Muni­cipality to fund and execute the project.

Som Chantha, representative of the families resisting the city or­der, said that the road would be widened from 4 meters to 30 me­ters across, displacing many of the families while increasing the value of adjacent land owned by the de­velopment company.

“The company wants to make its own profit,” Som Chantha said.

Kim Kuch, the company’s di­rector, confirmed Monday that his firm had offered to help develop the area because it owns property along the road and would benefit from improvements.

He added that each of the ef­fected families has been offered a  choice of $2,050 or city-provided land in Dangkao District as compensation. The new road itself is expected to cost $10,000.

“These people are squatters,” he said. “They live on the road.”

Som Chantha said that the 60 families she represents bought their land in 1990 and fear the city will move them to areas without basic amenities.

More than 40 households have already accepted monetary compensation and been moved “to remote areas where there is no water and electricity,” she said.

Som Chantha argued that the city-approved project is unnecessary because the community has agreed to assume the costs of a new road and drainage system.

“If the road is enlarged to 30 meters, then we won’t have any land left,” she said. “We don’t want to move.”

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