About 55 families belonging to Phnom Penh’s Rek Reay community kept workers hired by a local developer from pumping sand onto their land Sunday, residents said.
The residents remaining in the Tonle Bassac commune neighborhood are fighting eviction by de-veloper Bassac Garden City, which wants to expand its luxury gated community. About 200 families have already accepted $20,000 in compensation and vacated their homes.
Villager Pen Thay said Sunday that the developer began buying land in 2004. “Now they are intimidating our villagers,” he said.
He added that residents demonstrated last week in front of Tonle Bassac commune office to protest the bulldozing of their land, and that on Saturday and Sunday they blocked workers from pumping sand to fill in community land.
Khat Narith, Tonle Bassac commune chief, said last week that he has asked for an end to bulldozing until compensation is negotiated with the remaining villagers. He was unavailable for further comment Sunday.
“The company chooses new tactics to intimidate us from one dispute to the next,” said Chan Bun-thol, a 36-year-old teacher who owns a house in Rek Reay. “Last week the company bulldozed our land, and today the company or-dered a sand-pumping machine to fill our lots.”
He said villagers on the west side of the road that divides the community want $500 per square meter for their land, whereas villagers to the east want between $12,000 and $15,000 for each meter of width, regardless of the properties’ length.
Pen Thay said Bassac Garden City has issued a notice that it wants to meet with residents after Khmer New Year to negotiate compensation, but villagers have said they want to meet with the company immediately.
Representatives for Bassac Garden City could not be reached for comment Sunday.