Dozens of Families in the Dark As Construction on Road Begins

Construction of a 5 km-long road that will cut through several communes in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district has begun without the hundreds of families that face losing their land being notified by officials.

Dozens of the affected villagers, seeing the construction underway, gathered on Thursday outside City Hall calling on officials to disclose how many families will be affected, where they would be relocated and how they would be compensated.

Among them was Meng Kuong, 52, who has lived by the disused railway along which the road will run since 1988.

She said City Hall officials had not responded to a petition submitted this month requesting that construction be delayed until a settlement was reached.

“We are worried about losing our houses. If the new location is far from the current place, it will be difficult for our children go to school,” she said.

During an announcement of the plans last month, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong said affected residents would receive either compensation or alternate living arrangements, while those who chose to stay on strips of land left along the new 30-meter-wide road would receive official land titles.

Phnom Penh municipal spokesman Met Measpheak­dey said a working group would determine how many families would lose their land in the coming days.

“What we are doing now is not affecting their houses. Road construction that will impact the houses of villagers cannot move forward without an agreement,” Mr. Measpheakdey said.

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