Lake Residents Demand End to Flooding of Homes

Boeng Kak lake residents being forced out of their homes in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune continued protesting against their pending evictions yesterday in front of the pipes that have been burying their community in mud and sand for the past several weeks in Village 1.

About 60 residents gathered on the shores of Boeng Kak lake to demand that the firm that owns the pipes, Shukaku Inc, halt its pumping long enough for them to negotiate a fair compensation deal with the government. After a two-day reprieve, villagers said Shukaku on Sunday resumed its pumping—part of the firm’s plan to fill the lake with sand for a large-scale development project.

According to residents, the pumping has flooded some 100 village homes and completely swallowed at least three. Amid the pumping, Shukaku’s excavators were also busy yesterday tearing off several roofs.

“It is completely destroyed,” village resident Ouy Heng said of his home and mushroom nursery.

“We have only words with which to plead,” he said. “If they don’t listen to our pleas, we won’t know what to do.”

Like other residents, Mr Heng said neither the government nor the firm had given the community any warning about the flooding and that the compensation on offer was far too low to make up for what they are losing.

“They only give us $8,000 and 2 million riel for compensation,” he said. “We cannot accept. We want reasonable compensation at the market rate.”

Residents of Boeng Kak lake facing eviction—4,000 families in all—have been demanding titles to their homes since before City Hall granted Shukaku a lease to the 130-hectare site in 2007. Having titles would strengthen their hand in holding on to their homes, or at the very least help them negotiate a higher price for their property. City Hall has consistently ignored their requests, however, one of many moves that make the project illegal according to housing rights groups.

Deputy district governor Sok Penhvuth, who showed up to yesterday’s protest, told villagers that the district was powerless to address their concerns and that they should take their complaints to Shukaku or the city.

“Protesting here is useless,” he told them.

 

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