More than 20 families along National Road 6A began removing large portions of their homes Friday as the deadline passed for about 70 households to make way for a road-widening project.
The families in Russei Keo district’s Chroy Changva commune knocked down concrete and wooden walls in some cases decreasing the length of their homes from 13 meters to 5 meters as they continued to refuse compensation offers from the municipality. The district officials have threatened to remove the houses themselves if it was not done by the Friday deadline.
“We removed part of our house to open the way for enlargement but it does not mean we accept the compensation yet,” said resident Soeng Phon, 46.
Families have complained that City Hall’s offer of 6 by 8 meter plots of land 27 kilometers north of the capital in Kandal province and $500 is not enough compensation.
Russei Keo district governor Khlaing Huot said in his letter dated July 20 that only 13 families had accepted the offer and other families have to remove parts of their homes by Friday.
“In cases where someone refused, the district will enforce its administration measure to remove [them] without responsibility for damage and loss of properties,” the letter states.
Neither Mr Huot nor his deputy governor Koub Sles could be reached for comment Friday.
Sia Phearum, secretariat director for Housing Rights Taskforce, a local rights group, said Friday that a team of rights workers is investigating the case.
“These residents have never opposed the road development. They also need the big road but the local government treated them very badly,” said Mr Phearum. “They lost their way of living, making a profit and their children would be far away from school because of this unjust solution.”
According to a copy of a notice from City Hall dated April 23, the municipal department of public works and transportation plans to enlarge 4 kilometers of National Road 6A from east of Japanese Friendship Bridge up to 27.50 width.