City Stalls as Chroy Changva Families Demand Intervention

About 50 people with claims to land being developed in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva peninsula protested in front of City Hall on Monday and delivered a petition on behalf of more than 100 families demanding intervention in their dispute with the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC).

At about 9 a.m. Monday, the protesters gathered in front of City Hall holding signs demanding $400 per square meter for their land, which they say they have lived on since the early 1990s. The group also took issue with a comment by OCIC’s chairman Pung Kheav Se, reported in local media, saying the development was going “smoothly.”

Residents facing eviction on Phnom Penh's Chroy Changva peninsula protest outside City Hall on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Residents facing eviction on Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva peninsula protest outside City Hall on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Last month, City Hall announced that it was going to deal with the dispute by partitioning a swath of land on the 387-hectare development area, giving 10 percent to residents, 40 percent to OCIC and 50 percent to the government. However, the municipality has yet to say how large the piece of land would be.

Chea Sophat, 62, a representative of the threatened community on Chroy Changva, said the group’s petition called for City Hall to speed up its work mediating the dispute.

“If City Hall cuts 50 percent for the state, 40 percent for the company and 10 percent for us, I will not agree because I have not cultivated the land illegally,” Mr. Sophat said. “I don’t know how Pung Kheav Se can say it’s going smoothly if now we are traveling on a rough road.”

Touch Samnang, a project manager for OCIC, said City Hall was responsible for negotiating compensation with the families.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said officials were still doing “research” into the dispute, but said “almost all” of the families did not have legitimate claims to the land.

“How can we divide land for the villagers if almost all of them don’t have documents or land titles for us to approve?” Mr. Dimanche said.

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