More than 400 Phnom Penh families living along a canal in Meanchey district will be granted land titles after development to the area’s defunct drainage system takes place, officials said.
The families—423 in total, according to housing rights groups—will each be resettled on 5-by-8 meter plots carved out of the development, municipal governor Pa Socheatvong said in a video posted to his Facebook page on Friday.
“We will determine the size of the canal and the roads along the canal,” he said. “With the leftover land from the project, City Hall will ask for permission from the head of the government in order to prepare them into plots and make land titles for the people.”
“Please everyone, be happy and stay calm. There will be no eviction,” he added.
In addition to improving drainage to prevent flooding that has affected the area for years, running water, electricity and streetlights will be installed, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said on Sunday. But the development’s timeline and budget were still being finalized, he added, and the size of each family’s new property could not yet be guaranteed.
“[The plan] is not finalized yet,” Mr. Measpheakdey said. “We can only provide the policy.”
According to Horn Sokhan, a committee member from one of the eight affected communities, the news was largely welcomed by the group. Only a small number were “not satisfied, because their land is bigger and they will have to give it away and move,” he said.
Eang Vuthy, director of Equitable Cambodia, a local NGO that helps evictees, said the announcement was likely timed to shore up support for the ruling party ahead of Sunday’s commune elections. Having earned a reputation for making empty promises in past land agreements, however, the party would have to provide evidence of their intent, he said.
“They need to issue some kind of written statement that people can refer to,” he said. “Now is election time, so possibly the political party gives a lot of promises to the people. In order for the people to trust in the promise, it has to be an official kind of currency.”