Protesters Barred From CPP Offices in Water Dispute

About 500 people seeking lower water prices were barred by police from entering provincial CPP offices in Banteay Meanchey’s Serei Saophoan City yesterday, villagers and authorities said.​​​

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for the human rights group Adhoc, said villagers gathered at the CPP offices to protest November’s decision by water-supply company Koun Apaivath Development to raise the price of a cubic meter of water from 1,600 riel, or about $0.40, to 1,900 riel, after the deputy provincial governor failed to find a solution for the villagers.

“After meeting four times and still no results, the villagers no longer have faith that the deputy governor would provide a fair solution,” Mr Chankea said. “The deputy governor would only ever talk about the difficulty of the company,” he added. “Villagers do not have enough income and worry that there will not be money to pay for clear water.”

Villager Keo Kosal said that 500 protesters gathered outside CPP’s provincial offices and when they were barred from entering, they walked around the streets of Serei Saophoan City.

“Villagers appealed to the CPP provincial offices and hope the CPP representative will find a solution for us. We ask Koun Apaivath Development company to keep prices at 1,600 riel,” Mr Kosal said. He added that the next step, if necessary, would be to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Provincial police chief Hun Hean said that deputy provincial governor Im Phansophal suggested the villagers take up their cause with the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Energy, and that police barred the protesters from entering the CPP offices because they were worried the villagers would cause trouble.

“Police did not allow them to get inside the CPP office. The protesters did not ask for permission from provincial authorities to protest, causing trouble for the police,” Mr Hean said.

Mr Phansophal and Nhil Bunthoeun, provincial director of the Ministry of Industry could not be reached for comment.


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