Developer Pipes Land into Boeng Kak Lake Neighborhood

Workers for Shukaku Inc, the company filling in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak lake, began piping sand on Tuesday evening directly into a Daun Penh district neighborhood, flooding homes and damaging properties, villagers said yesterday.

Over 50 residents from Srah Chak commune’s Village 1 protested against their impending relocation yesterday next to the pipe, pleading with municipal officials and Shukaku, which was granted a 99-year lease on the land by the government in 2007, to allow them to stay in their homes.

Lake area residents’ protests have intensified in recent weeks against a government-approved development plan expected to displace 4,000 families.

“Their pumping violates our housing rights,” protester Ty Pisey said yesterday. “They pumped straight into my house so that I can no longer live or do business there.”

According to Ms Pisey, her house was suddenly flooded in the middle of the night and she was forced to shovel away piles of sand to exit her home.

Ouk Mony, a 33-year-old villager, said she had also been forced out of her home because it was unsafe to keep her young children in a flooded house.

“Their action is very brutal,” said Ms Mony. “How can we stand in this situation when they react to protests by using force to threaten us?”

Daun Penh district deputy governor Sok Penhvuth, who was observing the villagers protesting yesterday morning when 20 intervention police arrived to move them away from the pipe, said local officials and Shukaku were only following government plans.

“We will follow government policy going forward,” said Mr Penhvuth, declining to give further comment.

Ouch Leng, land program officer for the rights group Adhoc, said yesterday that both the government and Shukaku had violated the human rights of lake residents.

“They are ignoring legal procedure and pay no attention to the quality of life of the residents,” said Mr Leng. “Instead [municipal officials] are focusing on providing a security force to protect the company.


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