The Minister of Public Works and Transportation complained on Dec 31 to the National Assembly that AZ Investment Co Ltd had commenced enlarging National Route 4 without consulting the government, as is called for in its concession contract with the government.
“In the contract, the AZ company did not mention road enlargement, only that it will maintain and build parking lots and toilets along the road. It does not need to remove houses,” according to a copy of the letter Minister Sun Chanthol wrote to the National Assembly’s Human Rights Protection and Complaint Commission.
Currently, AZ Investment, headed by CPP parliamentarian Ung Bun Hauv, is undertaking a 30-meter enlargement of the Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville route.
Representatives of 92 families asked to abandon their homes by AZ Investment met with Sun Chanthol on Jan 12 and asked for either compensation or a reduction in the width of the road enlargement. National Assembly First Deputy President Heng Samrin recently came out in support of the affected villagers.
Sun Chanthol stated in his complaint that the company told him they had decided to enlarge the road because a delay would allow people to construct more houses, and the road enlargement issue would not be solved.
Sun Chanthol also wrote that according to AZ’s contract, if the government allowed the road expansion the company must lend the Finance Ministry funds to compensate displaced villagers for 60 days.
AZ Investment General Manager Chuon Van Dorn said Thursday that even though the contract states that the company is only to maintain the road, the company decided to start enlarging the road because it predicts future traffic jams. “We have to be more flexible,” he said.
Chuon Van Dorn said the company had not compensated villagers because they are squatters.
The 92 families that met with Sun Chanthol have land titles, Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho, said Thursday.