Lake Residents Growing Resigned to Pending Evictions

A growing number of the residents around the capital’s Boeng Kak lake who are facing eviction due to a development project are agreeing to accept compensation for their land, a commune official said yesterday.

At least 1,500 of the around 4,000 families in Srah Chak commune have accepted compensation since the city gave Shukaku Inc a 99-year lease to 133 hectares around the lake in 2007, a deal housing rights groups have called illegal for violating residents’ rights to claim land titles. But in a sign that residents are losing hope of holding on to their homes, 300 families have applied for compensation in the last two months alone, according to commune chief Chhay Thirith.

“Right now there are many families accepting the compensation,” he said yesterday.

Shukaku has been filling the lake with sand to make room for its development project. Yesterday the lake appeared well past half-filled. Together with the city, Shukaku has been offering residents three options in exchange for giving up their homes: $8,500, $500 plus a small apartment in Dangkao district, or an on-site home once the development project is finished.

In Srey Mom, whose modest stilt home in Village 6 sits off a wood pier that juts out over what remains of the lake, filed for compensation last week and said a dozen of her neighbors have recently done the same. Three days ago, city and Shukaku officials showed up to dab her doorway with a spot of blue paint and photograph her house and family for their records.

A few doors down, Prum Mach and her family received a similar visit five days ago. Like many residents, she said they applied for compensation because they felt they had no choice.

“I agreed to leave because even if we want to live here we cannot live here,” she said angrily.

Ms Mach said the $8,500 on offer is not nearly enough, though she called it a better deal that an apartment in far-off Dangkao district.

“I’m not sure where we will live after this, because the money is not enough,” she said.

 

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