Four people were arrested at a resort in Kompong Speu province Sunday as part of ongoing efforts by local authorities to oust the operator and seize the property, authorities said Sunday.
More than 10 local police were sent to the Ampe Phnom resort near the provincial town of Kompong Speu to prevent the current tenant from collecting fees from tourists, authorities said. Four resort employees were arrested and released several hours later.
Officials complain that since investor Keo Leng took over the lease on the public property in 1991, he has failed to make adequate improvements. The riverside resort offers thatched bungalows and elephant rides.
“We must take it back from the private renter because he has not developed it in the almost 10 years he has owned the resort,” said Kompong Speu Second Deputy Governor Phauk Sam En.
However, provincial court director Pol Vorn said authorities violated a court warrant issued in December ordering them to stop their efforts to oust Keo Leng and his staff until the matter had been settled in court.
In December, Keo Leng filed a complaint with the court demanding compensation of $76,200, which he said he has spent developing the property.
Keo Leng said he has paid for extensive improvements, including a bridge and road. He said he has constructed almost 100 bungalows and bought land from local villagers for a parking lot.
“Before I leave, they must pay me some money to cover the cost of the renovations,” he said.
Phauk Sam En said the resort is currently being run by the Kompong Speu Tourism Office, which is working out a new plan to develop the property. At present, no fees are being collected from visitors—they may use the facilities for free, he said.