New Boardwalk to Spur Beachfront Evictions

Construction on a kilometer-long boardwalk linking Sihanoukville’s O’Chheuteal and O’Tres beaches began on Monday, with the provincial governor saying the project would result in the first evictions since the local government told seaside businesses to move out.

“The path will lead from O’Chheuteal to O’Tres. Work started today and the path is for use during Khmer New Year when many tourists will come to walk and cycle,” Preah Sihanouk governor Yun Min said on Monday, adding that the 8-meter-wide promenade would be located 50 meters from the ocean and would be about 1 km long.

“This will see the eviction of the people. Soon, I will ask the government whether they should leave now or wait until after Khmer New Year,” he said.

In mid-February, the provincial government announced that the owners of all bars, restaurants and guesthouses on O’Tres Beach, and some on the southern tip of neighboring O’Chheuteal Beach, had a month to pack up and leave. However, the March 13 deadline has passed and the businesses have not been disturbed.

Mr. Min warned on Monday that the boardwalk would cut through land on which several establishments are currently located, resulting in the first evictions on O’Chheuteal Beach. Some land would also be taken back from the Sokha Hotel & Resorts group, he said.

Thy Tay, manager of the SeaGarden Bungalows on O’Tres, said he was confident that businesses on the beach did not face imminent eviction, claiming that he had seen a document from the national government saying as much.

“They’re not going to come to O’Tres Beach and tear everything down…but in O’Chheuteal Beach, sure,” Mr. Tay said.

(Additional reporting by George Wright)

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