A Ministry of Interior deadline to evict 168 families next to Phnom Penh’s state-run Preah Monivong Hospital passed without incident Wednesday.
Instead, representatives of the families were preparing for a meeting with Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun and an Interior Ministry representative in which they plan to submit three proposals to stave off the eviction.
The first option, and the one most favored by the villagers, would see the city give them a loan to upgrade their homes.
“The people prefer and are planning to build-up their apartments at the disputed area by themselves with a loan from the government or from NGOs,” village representative Sean Soeung said.
The proposed $1.54 million project would see the construction of 70 four-story buildings containing 280 apartments, two roads linking the apartments and a parking lot, he said. The loan would be repaid like a mortgage over a 29-year period, or 112 apartments could be sold or rented for $40 each.
The second idea would be to relocate onto new land not more than 5 km away from their current homes, with new houses and a concrete road linking them to a main road.
“We do not want to relocate to the outskirts of the city because we have seen the failed projects the government has already tried in recent years,” Sean Soeung said.
If the municipality does not accept the first two options, it can buy their homes for a fair market price, Sean Soeung added.
Mann Chhoeun said today’s meeting is intended to resolve the issue without violence.
“We try to find the best way between the Ministry of Interior and the community,” he said, noting the municipality falls under the ministry’s jurisdiction. “We try our best to solve the problem peacefully.”
But General Say Lor, director of the Interior Ministry’s health department, said the order was not enforced because he was too busy. He said the proposal to upgrade the apartments was not feasible because the land belongs to the ministry.
“They cannot build it because the land belongs to the Ministry of Interior,” he said Wednesday.