Eviction Deadline Passes But O’Tres Businesses Stay

The businesses on O’Tres beach remained even though the Preah Sihanouk provincial authority’s eviction deadline passed yesterday, owners said. Yet businesspeople there, who were told to pack up and leave in a notice issued by the provincial governor last week, are still facing uncertainty. Government officials told about 60 owners to leave their restaurants, guesthouses and bars yesterday, but no forcible evictions took place, restaurant owner Aun Socheata, 26, said.

“Now we are still not evicted from our business stalls because we are waiting for resolution from the provincial authority,” Ms Socheata said, noting that another petition was sent to the governor’s office yesterday.

Say Vantha, 40, said that he feared losing his restaurant and did not know where he would go or how he could earn money.

“I’m poor, so I cannot find another occupation,” Mr Vantha said, adding that ten more fences were built on Tuesday to demarcate the area to be evicted.

Deputy provincial governor Phay Phan said that businesspeople had already been told to move from the beach so that a park for tourists could be built there.

“The case is not decided just by the provincial authority, a decision comes from the government,” Mr Phan said.

Provincial governor Sboang Sarath said that he was not personally responsible for moving the businesspeople off the beach, but that it was a government decision.

“It is state land. The land does not belong to them,” Mr Sarath said.

Resort owner Rainer Deyhle said that businesses did not have a legal right to be there, but that this year many owners had made down payments for licenses that never materialized.

“I deeply disapprove of the way the subject is being dealt with,” Mr Deyhle said, noting that the week’s eviction notice was “ridiculous” and that development should start before poor families-many now in a desperate situation-were forced away.

“We want a reasonable time to at least recuperate while they build a road and infrastructure, then we will leave freely,” Mr Deyhle said.

(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)



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