Beachfront Evictions to Begin In Sihanoukville Next Week

The eviction of businesses along Sihanoukville’s popular O’Chheuteal Beach will begin as early as Monday, after the provincial governor returns from a trip abroad, an official said on Thursday.

Last month, the owners of bars, restaurant and guesthouses along O’Chheuteal and O’Tres beaches were informed that they had until March 13 to pack up and leave or face forced eviction, with authorities citing environmental concerns. Establishments on both beaches have remained open since the deadline expired.

However, deputy provincial governor Chhin Seng Nguon said on Thursday that the deadline had been pushed back to next week because the governor, Yun Min, was in China on state business.

“We didn’t start demolishing on Sunday because we don’t want to work too quickly…so we have left them alone for a while to demolish by themselves,” he said. “The governor said plans to go down there for the demolition will have to wait until he returns from China.”

Although businesses on O’Chheuteal will be first in the firing line, Mr. Seng Nguon said, provincial officials would also meet next week to discuss the fate of businesses on O’Tres.

“Even though it will happen any time after the 20th, the first area is O’Chheuteal at Ariston. Then the provincial governor will hold discussions looking at the other beach,” he said.

Chhit Yoeun, a representative of O’Chheuteal business owners, said locals would attempt to block any efforts to dismantle their establishments.

“Now there is nothing left to protest anymore, so we will wait, and when it happens, we will stop them,” she said. “If authorities don’t want our businesses close to the beach, then please move us back 50 meters. We can’t leave here; it is our [rice] pot.”

On Monday, the provincial governor said 32 families with businesses on O’Chheuteal had been offered $3,500 for their plots because they had been there for 15 years, and that all but six had taken the deal.

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