Land Near Squatters Sold To Top Official

A section of land next to the Borei Keila squatter community has been sold by Phanimex Co Ltd to a high-ranking court official, company and municipal officials said Monday.

Appeals Court Director Ly Vuoch Leng bought the land,  Phanimex Director Suy Sophan said.

She declined to specify when the transaction took place or the price or size of the plot of land sold, saying only that it was big enough for “possibly 10 flats.”

In September, the municipality signed a deal with Phanimex in which the company agreed to build 10 new apartment buildings on 2 hectares of land to house 1,776 squatter families, in ex-change for the rights to sell or develop an additional 2.6 hec-tares. The land sold to Ly Vuoch is part of that 2.6 hectares, Suy Sophan said.

Money raised from the sale will help fund the $7 million cost of the promised housing project, said Chhuon Sothy, director of the municipal land management and construction department.

“They divided [the 2.6 hec-tares] into plots of land for sale to make money for erecting a building,” he said Wednesday. “This is the government principle to help the poor.”

When contacted by telephone Monday, Ly Vuoch Leng said she was in a meeting and declined to comment.

Residents of Borei Keila, a former athletes’ compound near Olympic Stadium, have balked at a plan to temporarily relocate while the new apartments are built. In March, angry residents tore down a sign posted at the site describing Phanimex’s plans.

Last week residents reiterated their refusal to relocate, and said they are ready to protest any attempts to start construction. Concrete pillars for the buildings’ foundation were piled at the site, but squatters said no other progress has been made toward construction on the project.

Construction on the squatter apartments is scheduled to begin this month and is expected to take three years, Suy Sophan said.

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