No Solution for Borei Keila Families, ‘Occupation’ Continues

Representatives from the Borei Keila community met with Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong on Thursday morning, but failed to agree on the size of temporary shelters the municipality had promised to build for the evicted families who currently live beside a fetid garbage site.

Angered by the municipality’s offer of plots of land smaller than originally promised, about 30 families on Wednesday left their tarpaulin homes and occupied an unfinished apartment block at the Borei Keila site.

The families continued to occupy the building Thursday.

“There was no result of the meeting with Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong,” said Pich Limkhuon, a community representative and one of the 13 people who went to the meeting at City Hall.

“Mr. Pa Socheatvong said that residents can’t live in that [occupied] building, because it is private property,” Mr. Limkhuon said in reference to the apartment block where the families have moved.

“We asked [Mr. Socheatvong] who the owner is [of the unfinished apartment block] and why it was sold, but he did not answer,” Mr. Limkhuon added.

Disputes have raged at the Borei Keila site after the municipality gave the land to the well-connected Phanimex company who promised to build 10 apartment blocks to house the 1,000 families who were moved from the original site. Phanimex, however, only built eight of the promised apartments, leaving many families landless as a result.

Vowing to stay put, the 30 families now live in makeshift homes where the inhabitants of the completed apartments blocks throw their trash.

Last week, City Hall said it would build temporary shelters, 4-by-6-meters in size, for the families at a site away from the heaps of garbage. But this latest dispute began when the authorities later revealed that they would only give 3-by-4-meter plots.

“Now we are committed to living in building 9 [the unfinished apartment block], because City Hall has given no specific answers to how long we will have to live in temporary shelter and when we will have a full resolution,” Mr. Limkhuon said.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche declined to say how authorities will deal with the families, including children and elderly people, occupying the unfinished apartment block.

However, Prampi Makara District Governor Sorm Sovann distributed a letter to the families Thursday telling them to immediately clear out of the occupied building.

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