Poipet Families Meet With Gov’t, Railroad Firm

Families ordered to evacuate from their homes in Poipet to make way for a new railway line met Monday with government and project representatives to discuss a resettlement plan, though some villagers said they were unhappy with the plan and will refuse to move.

Officials from the Inter-Minist-erial Resettlement Committee and Asian Development Bank, which is providing funding for reconstructing a railway link from Serei Sao-phoan to the Thai border, met with families for two hours at Mong Chin pagoda in Poipet, villager Chan Seng said by telephone.

Chan Seng said the meeting grew tense, with villagers accusing the government of failing to ensure compensation before families were evacuated from other sites.

ADB spokesman Kim Chantha said Monday the meeting was attended by 39 villagers and 18 officials, including representatives from the Royal Railways of Cam-bodia and the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation.

The IRC used the meeting to detail the resettlement plan, which includes giving each family a home about 2.5 km away at a housing project currently under construction, Kim Chantha said.

Villagers expressed concern about finding jobs at the relocation site, Kim Chantha said, but nearly all agreed that they would move.

Now, Kim Chantha said, the ADB “will meet with the IRC again and talk about incorporating an economic plan for the families to guarantee income. Then we will meet again with the villagers.”

IRC Chairman Nhean Leng could not be reached for comment.

Suong Sokha, a villager who also attended, said many families re-main uninterested and will continue to refuse to move.

“I still have the same stand that we do not need to offer the removal of our houses,” he said Monday.

About 70 affected families pro-tested Feb 5 in Phnom Penh ag-ainst their announced eviction after officials in mid-January measured off the land needed for the railway project near the Poipet international checkpoint.

Monday’s meeting was a positive step toward resolving the dispute, said Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. “Now, IRC and ADB are clearly aware of what is happening and what the villagers’ suggestion is.”

  (Additional reporting by Stephen Kurczy)


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