Chamkar Mon district authorities have ordered residents living alongside Boeng Trabek lake to move in order to improve the capital’s drainage and sewage system. An announcement signed by Chamkar Mon district governor Lo Luy on Sept 17 gave villagers ten days to leave Phsar Thoeum commune.
“We are improving drainage to prevent flooding. We do not evict villagers but generally announced the removal of families who encroach on and fill in the lake,” Mr Luy said.
Thorng Chhorn, Phsar Thoeum commune chief, said he did not know how many residents would have to stop living on the lake in Pram village, nor if there would be compensation.
“The removal will prevent obstructions when working to accommodate sewage to prevent flooding in the municipality,” Mr Chhorn said.
However, local residents say that they cannot leave their current homes because the authorities have not offered compensation or a relocation site.
Yat Channy, 42, outside her corrugated metal house on the rubbish-covered banks of the lake, said that the villagers received the first announcement of the eviction only yesterday.
“I appeal to the authorities to find a good solution such as compensation or a new location…. If the houses are removed we have nowhere else to live,” Ms Channy said.
Uk Vanna, interviewed in another shack in the area filled with flies and the smell of sewage, said that villagers did not feel anger towards the authorities and would move so long as they were given a place to relocate and fair compensation.
“People here are very poor. If the authorities evict us and we do not get compensation, how can we live?” Ms Vanna said.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor at rights group Licadho, said that the authorities did not consult villagers prior to the announcement of the eviction.
“We are very concerned that hurrying to remove villagers in ten days means that no compensation or new location will be found for them,” Mr Sam Ath said.