The 32 families evicted from the area around Stung Meanchey pagoda in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district Sunday protested at City Hall Thursday, saying they had not been given the compensation they were promised.
Villager Nhem Phalla, 30, said that on Jan 31 the municipality promised families $100 per square meter for their homes if they agreed to move to an area in Meanchey’s Boeng Tompun commune in order to make way for a new Stung Meanchey bridge.
“We all thumb-printed documents to move from our houses because we were satisfied with what they promised us,” he said Thursday.
“They promised to give each family $100 per square meter…but now I get only $13 per square meter,” he said, adding that he has received a total of $208 in addition to the 4-by-8 meter plot of land at the relocation site he was promised.
Villagers added that the relocation site is lacking even the most basic infrastructure.
Chreang Sophan, municipal deputy governor, said there were three tiers of compensation based on location and value of home.
“The protesters this morning just lived on the sidewalk near the pagoda wall. They must receive less than $50 [per square meter],” he said.
Meanchey District Governor Kouch Chamroeun said that $50 per square meter was the rate of compensation for those also receiving land, whereas those getting $100 per square meter would not be given land.
“They all agreed. Why do they protest for higher compensation?” he asked.
Ly Srey Mom, 39, another villager, said they only agreed to the deal once they were promised $100 per square meter and a new plot of land. She said she received $47 per square meter for her home, which was made of cement.
“All 32 families now live at the new land under tarpaulins,” she said.
Chan Soveth, an investigator for local rights group Adhoc, said that authorities need to keep their promises and treat the evicted families fairly by providing them with humane living conditions at the relocation site.
Chreang Sophan said the new relocation site is a suitable living environment.
“We always care for our people,” he said.