The last of 16 shacks that once clung to the edge of a mammoth development project in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district were demolished by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) on Monday.
Seven families in Doeum Kor 2 village—where marshlands are quickly being pumped full of sand by OCIC—took $500 in compensation on Friday before their shacks were destroyed. Another five families caved in on Sunday and the last four holdouts took the cash Monday morning before having their houses dismantled.
“If I didn’t accept [the $500], they would keep pumping, and then we would be under the sand, but I accepted it because I need my family to survive in the future,” said Yan Yoeun, 48, a disabled former soldier.
Fellow ex-soldier Khan Sokun, 53, said he intended to hold out because he is blind and was frightened by the prospect of having to uproot his life.
“I feel hopeless,” he said before his shanty was torn down. “Being blind, it’s better for me living here, so how could I find a new place to live with no rent?”
In the end though, he and four of the other families had already staked out a small plot of land in Dangkao district, which they plan to rent for $100 a year, Mr. Sokun said.
At the site where the cluster of shacks were demolished, a freshly dug water channel had been carved through the site Monday.
Pieces of the shacks jutted from the ground next to remnants such as shoes and a spade that was left behind. But gone were the people who once called the area their home.
OCIC project manager Touch Samnang said the company, which is developing a $3-billion satellite city on former wetland, would not offer compensation to any more squatters on the land.
“Next time, if we have a situation with people like this, we will not help them,” he said.
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