Governor: City Is Not Responsible for Fire Governor Says

Persistent rumors that the city was behind the Aug 9 fire that killed two boys and left 96 families homeless prompted Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema to meet with fire victims Monday morning and assert the city’s innocence.

Rumors have alleged that the city lit the fire to clear residents from areas near Wat Neak­voan, southwest of Boeng Kak lake, according to the governor.

But “municipal officers and I have never attempted to burn people’s houses down in order to take their land,” Kep Chuktema told representatives from the homeless families. He added that the mu­n­i­cipality has a great deal of land and it isn’t necessary to start fires.

“I wouldn’t give land licenses to Borey Keila and squatters if I wanted their land,” he said, referring to his recent promise to grant land titles to hundreds of residents of the Borey Keila community.

The homeless families at Boeng Kak do not have legal titles to the land their houses oc­cupied. But the governor told them to rebuild their houses quickly in anticipation of possible rainy season flooding.

In the wake of widespread complaints about the conduct of firemen at the fire, Kep Chuk­tema told people that two firemen are under investigation for de­manding money from people whose houses were on fire.

Fire officials said Sunday that the firemen had been suspended from their jobs.

Kep Chuktema told villagers that the family of the boys who died received 1.12 million riel (about $280) from the prime minister and municipality while the other 95 families re­ceived 120,000 riel (about $30) as well as 20 kg of rice, clothing and other supplies.


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