Firm: Relocation Should Be Finished This Week

The relocation of more than 1,000 families from Tonle Bassac com­mune’s village 14 should be completed by the end of the week, a representative of Sour Srun, the company handling the relocation, said Sunday.

Company representative Huy Chhor said that more than 580 families had already moved to the Dang­kao district relocation site—a muddy plot of land with modest, half-built facilities including a school and a market.

“Two hundred families moved on Saturday,” Huy Chhor said. “We dismantled many houses, but we didn’t have enough trucks to transport it all in time,” he said.

Sam Rainsy wrote to Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen on Saturday seeking intervention and alleging that the relocation was not proceeding trans­parently.

“Ten families moved to the new site, but 100 plots of land have been occupied,” Sam Rainsy wrote. “I would like Samdech to examine this and intervene with a just and transparent solution.”

Around 1,700 plots of land measuring five by 12 meters have been set aside for families that own­ed homes in Tonle Bassac. But many residents protested the relocation this week, stating that the com­paratively isolated Dangkao lo­ca­tion and lack of building materials could spell disaster for their families.

Local residents’ leader Thorn Bunlong, who said he represented 119 families, said Sunday that 68 families from his community had moved under threat of legal action from commune authorities and company representatives.

“They said we would face the court if we refused to move,” he said, adding that many people who rented rather than owned their homes in the village had not been offered compensation.

Hing Sophanara, who said he rep­resented 394 families, alleged that villagers were scared and bribed into leaving their homes by officials from the company.

“They use every means to make the villagers go,” he said, adding that some villagers had accepted $200 or $300 to be uprooted.

But Huy Chhor denied the allegations. “We have no policy to do that, because it will only make the situation worse,” he said.

Huy Chhor also alleged that some NGOs were inviting trouble and making the relocation difficult without doing anything helpful for the villagers.

He added that his company had given each family that moved to Dangkao on the first day two small tents, 20 kg of rice, $10 and a plastic bucket to get started in their new home.

 

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