Preah Sihanouk Officials Meet Over Beach Compensation Plan

Preah Sihanouk provincial officials met on Monday to discuss an order from the national government to provide compensation for a number of families living and running businesses on O’Chheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville who are facing the threat of eviction.

The families are part of a larger group of business owners, residents and vendors along the beaches who were told last month that they had to leave or be forcibly evicted. Although the government initially declined to compensate any of them, officials in Phnom Penh determined that a group of families in the Ariston area of O’Chheuteal, near Sokha Beach, had been living in the area for over 15 years and had the right to be paid for their land, according to provincial governor Yun Min.

Vendors on Sihanoukville's O'Chheuteal Beach in 2011 (Creative Commons)
Vendors on Sihanoukville’s O’Chheuteal Beach in 2011 (Creative Commons)

“Thirty-two families have lived in the Ariston area for many years, so the higher government decided to provide compensation,” he said. “Now there are only six families remaining who have not negotiated compensation.”

Mr. Min said Monday’s meeting focused on these families, who are being offered the same $3,500 compensation package given to the others, but are still refusing to accept the deal. He said provincial authorities would re-enter negotiations with the six holdout families.

However, authorities are still refusing to deal with another community of 57 families living on a nearby stretch of beach in the Ariston area. They are also standing firm in their position of not compensating any of the businesses being evicted from neighboring O’Tres Beach, according to deputy provincial governor Chhin Seng Nguon.

“O’Tres was never discussed at the meeting because they are new people; it was only to negotiate with those at Ariston who have been living there for a long time,” he said.

Although the deadline for all the families and businesses to leave O’Tres and O’Chheuteal was supposed to be Sunday, Mr. Seng Nguon said that an exact date had not yet been set for when holdouts would be pushed out. He warned, however, that provincial authorities were “already organizing the plan.”

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