Kampot Families Fear Impact Of Upcoming Road Project

More than 120 families in Kam­pot province’s Kompong Trach district slated to lose all or most of their property for a road-widening project appealed to human rights group Li­cadho yesterday for help.

The project is set to break ground next month. But the families have yet to receive any word from the gov­ernment about compensation and worry they will be short-changed.

District governor Om Sinath said the project will widen a total of 107 km along national roads 31, 33 and 117 from 7 meters to 40 me­ters, and that most of the affected fam­ilies support the project as a chance to im­prove local trade with Vietnam.

“Of course, some villagers have ex­pressed concern about having their houses partly affected. But they do not oppose the project strongly,” he said.

He said details of the project, in­cluding exactly how many families it will affect and what sort of compensation they will receive, had yet to be worked out because an inter-ministerial resettlement committee had not yet finished its im­pact assessment.

But Chea Im, a representative of the affected families, said 80 percent of the 124 families who turned to Licadho yesterday will lose all or most of their land to the new road.

Authorities marked homes slated for demolition with red paint last month. But Mr Im said a letter the families sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet immediately af­ter­ward, asking for a guarantee that they receive market-rate com­pen­sation for both their land and their houses, had gone unanswered.

Doeu Sokhom, a provincial mon­itor for Licadho, said his investigation of the project suggested that the families would end up worse off if not compensated properly.

“The impact…will be more serious than the benefits the villagers are supposed to get,” he said, and urged the government to scale back its ambitions with a narrower road.

South Korea’s online Yonhap News Agency reported in June that two national firms had signed a $27.9 million deal with the government to repair and build 106 km of road in Cambodia but did not specify where.

Provincial governor Khoy Khun Hour yesterday declined to confirm or deny the report, but said construction would start in November.

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