After Change of Plans, Road Dispute Villagers Ask for Compensation

Dozens of villagers who had partly or completely demolished their houses to make way for the widening of National Road 6A said Friday they need compensation to rebuild their homes now that the size of the planned expansion has been reduced.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday asked villagers from the capital’s Russei Keo district for forgiveness over the road-widening project that villagers had said threatened their land and ordered that the road be widened by only 30 meters instead of 60 meters.

Pich Lang, a 48-year-old mother of two, had knocked down her 8-meter by 15-meter house under orders from authorities more than two months ago. She says she needs compensation to rebuild her home, as the amended proposal will not affect her plot of land.

“Who would be responsible to rebuild my house?” Ms Lang asked on Friday. “It is already gone. Now the road size is reduced I should rebuild my house but I do not have money.”

Residents had originally been told to clear their land to allow authorities to widen a 4-kilometer stretch of National Road 6A, starting just east of the Japanese Friendship Bridge. Some had been told they would have to relocate altogether.

Municipal officials on Friday were seen spraying red paint to mark the planned size of the new road, while some villagers worked to dismantle those parts of their homes that will still be affected by the expansion.

On Wednesday, Russei Keo district governor Khlaing Huot, raised safety concerns over the proximity of recently installed electricity supply posts to the villagers’ homes. Mr Huot said he had asked officials from the state-owned energy provider Electricite du Cambodge to move the posts, which had been relocated 15 meters from the houses, to make way for the expansion.

“Some posts were installed too close to their houses,” Mr Huot said. “Please, electricity officials immediately remove them.”

On Friday the posts, not yet connected to the power, were still installed less than one meter from the villagers’ houses.

Chea Sin Hel, director of the distribution department of Electricte du Cambodge, said Friday that EDC had installed about a dozen electricity posts on one side of the road under a directive from municipal authorities. He said that Mr Hun Sen had ordered on Wednesday that the posts be moved further away to alleviate the safety concerns amongst residents.

“We do not remove them yet as we are waiting for a final decision on where we should reinstall,” Mr Sin Hel said. “City Hall should discuss this seriously to prevent problems next time.”


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