Angry villagers in Takeo province have been running a roadblock since early last week to prevent trucks from a quarrying firm from traveling along a five-km stretch of road the company promised but failed to upgrade.
“We will not remove the blockade unless we witness the arrival of construction materials and resin for paving the road,” said Khom, 39, a Bati district villager who refused to give a full name.
More than 200 families in Tumnop village, Tnort commune, have been manning the blockade, made up of two-meter-long bamboo poles, since Nov 16 along the six-meter-wide, five-km-long road connecting Tnort and Chambak communes.
Tnort commune chief Heng Hong said by telephone yesterday that provincial authorities had granted a 30-year contract to the ICB company last year to maintain the road and establish a toll collection once the paving was finished.
According to Mr Hong, about 12 years ago, the company received an investment license to quarry a nearby mountain for stone. The firm has been collecting and transporting rocks along the road, and kicking up dust since then but has done no work on paving the road during the last year.
“The company has ignored paving the road and has broken its promises repeatedly, which is why the villagers are so angry,” Mr Hong said. “It is absolutely dusty.”
Pen Sok Kennedy, director of IBC, was not available for comment.
Hor Nead, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that the roadblock is not harming public transportation.
“If the firm would fulfill its obligation in paving the road, villagers would never hold the roadblock.”
Bati district Governor Lay Sokha confirmed that the barricade is not affecting public transportation, but said he is nevertheless seeking provincial support to settle the issue.
“The firm is just a little bit late in starting its work for paving the road,” he added.