Boeung Kak Residents Left in Limbo After Fire

Families from the capital’s Tuol Kok district left homeless by a March 8 fire have still not been given permission to rebuild, officials and residents said yesterday.

“We have no solution for residents, because they disagree with the arrangements proposed by authorities,” deputy district chief Thim Sam An said yesterday.

Residents from in Boeng Kak II commune’s villages 104 and 105 were originally offered resettlement in Dangkao district’s Choam Chao commune but that proposal was withdrawn last month and all residents were told to stay.

District governor Seng Ratanak said on June 13 that authorities would soon measure the land and allocate plots but this has not been done yet.

Of the 257 families whose houses were destroyed in the blaze, 170 accepted the initial relocation offer. The others were told they could rebuild but without land titles.

They would also be restricted to 3.92-by-5.5 meters plots–a smaller area than most residents occupied before the fire. Mr Sam An said authorities had no plans to look for other possible relocation sites.

Commune chief Van Sareth said the situation was causing rifts among the residents.

“The villagers disagree. The 170 families say they cannot live on such small land,” he said.

Vong Saly, 62, said she, along with around 67 other affected families, were happy to rebuild in the same area. “We accepted the authorities’ arrangements. But the 170 families still disagree so we are very concerned about problems in the future,” she said.

Kith Sienghai, 27, was a member of one of the families who originally decided to relocate to the new site. He said the situation had dragged on for so long that he has taken matters into his own hands.

“Authorities cancel the relocation and have not measured out plots of land–I can’t live on such a small area…. Now I have decided to rebuild my house the same size as before,” he said.

Mr Sam An said any unauthorized constructions on the site would not be permitted. “We told them that, if they rebuild like before, the situation would be bad if they had another fire,” he said.


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