Quarry Explosions Stir Protest Plans in Kampot

Seventy families in two Kampot province villages plan to block a local road for the second time, claiming that explosions from a near­by quarry have damaged their homes.

The villagers, living in Dan Tong district’s La’ang village and Kampot district’s Prey Thnang village, first blocked the road Nov 1.

According to La’ang villager Im Samnang, 53, the quarry, run by the Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation, has detonated explosions twice a day since January, spraying rock fragments as a far as 300 meters and damaging around 20 homes and farms.

“If the government does not make a solution within this week, we will block the road again,” Im Samnang said.

“This time we will not relent until the governor makes a written promise,” he added.

Kampot Provincial Governor Khoy Khun Hour said that he has a team working on the issue, but they need to complete an investigation of the land to determine who should be compensated for damage. He added that last week’s Water Festival had slowed their progress.

“We have already been there a couple times since the problem began, but the villagers just want the Chinese company to buy their land,” he said.

According to Khoy Khun Hour, rock from the quarry is needed to build the Kamchay Dam, and Sinohydro has agreed to pay $10,000 per damaged hectare of land.

“We need to solve both the national interest and the villagers’ interests,” he said, and called on the villagers to demarcate their property to aid the investigation.

He added that he will prosecute any people who “incite the villagers the protest.”

Try Chhoun, Kampot provincial coordinator of local rights group Adhoc, said that the villagers have filed several complaints since the problem began.

“This delay impacts the villagers’ living, and the governor uses excuses to respond to them,” she said. “I think that the demarcation of the land will create new problems.”

Representatives for Sinohydro Corporation could not be reached for comment Monday.

 

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