Gov’t Considering Expansion of R’kiri Airport

The government said Tuesday that it is studying the possible impact of renovating and expanding the Ratanakkiri Airport, leaving those living nearby fearing that they may be forced to move without adequate compensation.

The renovation, which will utilize $5.1 million in loans from the Asia Development Bank, will include a new flight control tower, terminal, navigation equipment and an extension of the runway, said Sinn Chan Sereyvutha, director of planning and policy at the State Secre­tariat for Civil Aviation.

Sinn Chan Sereyvutha said the expansion could lead to the eviction of some 100 families in the vicinity of the Banlung town airport.

He said that a committee—comprised of officials from the SSCA, the Finance Ministry and the pro-vincial government—has begun measuring out the required land and will hire an independent consultant to assess the value of that property.

But with officials coming by their homes Monday to measure their land, residents expressed concern that they would not be compensated fully for their land.

“I am so worried that the authorities won’t provide compensation, at least not according to the market price,” said Muong Srey Mao, 41, who owns a 60-square-meter plot near the airport.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that a fair price for the land would be $50 to $60 per square meter.

Sinn Chan Sereyvutha said that locals have nothing to fear.

“If the ADB agrees with the as­sessment, people will get paid ac­cording to a reasonable rate,” he said, adding that if all compensation issues are handled quickly work could begin in February.

ADB officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.



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