As the relocation of around 1,000 families from Tonle Bassac commune continues, more than 100 people who had rented abodes at the ramshackle village have been left without shelter, awaiting an alternative place to live.
Though the Sour Srun land development company agreed to relocate roughly 1,000 village families to alternative plots of land in Dangkao district, no provision was made for the estimated 400 families who rented rooms and buildings inside the village.
As houses have been dismantled in village 14, renters have been forced into the open and prevented from erecting tarpaulins as they wait hopefully for alternative accommodation as cheap to rent as Village 14 once was, said Chin March, 45, an evicted renter.
“I just stay here. I dare not go anywhere. I would like to get a place for my children to live,” she said, huddled underneath a mat where she sheltered from the sun with five other women on Monday.
Chin March said she had rented a small house in Village 14 for about $10 per month for the past 10 years. A place outside the village would cost around $20 or $30—more than Chin March can earn selling peanuts and water in the city.
Kong Lis, 23, a mother of three small children, said a police officer with a loudspeaker had ordered her to remove a piece of mat she had erected to shade her children, who are living among the remnants of the disassembled village.
“I am worried about my children’s health. One of my children has become sick because we have to sleep here day and night,” she said.
Khui Chhor, a representative for the Sour Srun company, said that according to his statistics only 80 families were renting property in the village. Khui Chhor said the figures were compiled at the “village and commune levels.”
“If the number is more than that, they must be people from outside and opportunists. We cannot accept them,” he said.
Sao Chanhorm, investigation coordinator at local rights group Licadho, said that villagers estimated the number of renters to be closer to 400 families.
“We wanted to take statistics about the house renters but the municipality banned us. I go down there every day to check on the condition of the people,” Sao Chanhorm said.