Date Set for Relocation of Tonle Bassac Villagers

More than 1,000 families living in Tonle Bassac commune’s Village 14 will be transported to a relocation site 22 km outside Phnom Penh on Wednesday, municipal of­ficials said Friday.

Mann Chhoeun, deputy municipal governor, said he met with 100 rep­resentatives from the village, lo­cated behind the Russian Embassy, on Thursday.

The villagers thumb-printed an agreement for the families to move to the new land in Dangkao district’s Trapeang Krasang commune, he said.

The land where the families are living will then be given to Sour Srun Enterprise Co, Ltd.

The villagers will not be paid for the land they are currently living on, but will be given 5-meter-by-12-meter plots of land at the new site and land titles, he said.

“There will be a hospital, market and water network,” he said. “We won’t do it like Pol Pot. There is a road,” he added.

Chan Siyara, the village’s deputy chief, said he was unhappy relocating to a site so far outside the capital, but he did not know what he could do to avoid it.

He added that life there would be considerably more expensive, as villagers would have to pay for regular, long rides on motorbike taxis to the capital to buy and sell goods.

“We don’t know what to do. Only a few of us oppose them, the majority agreed to go,” said 30-year-old villager Pen Phal.

Eang Sopheak, a lawyer for the Community Legal Education Cen­ter’s Public Interest Legal Advocacy Program, questioned the municipality’s claim that 1,000 families have agreed to be moved and voiced concern that violence could oc­cur during the eviction.

Huy Chhor, a representative of Sour Srun Enterprise, said a school and hospital paid for by the firm have already been built at the new site.

He added that water and electricity will come later, and that a sewage system will not be required.


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