Opposition leader Sam Rainsy met with families still living along the railway in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district on Thursday to pledge his support in their campaign to ensure that an Asian Development Bank-funded railway rehabilitation project does not leave them worse off, as it has for hundreds of other families in the city.
Mr. Rainsy promised to meet with the ADB soon to help guarantee that the families receive fair compensation for whatever land they lose to the $143-million project.
“The CNRP will defend you against the illegal confiscation of your land,” Mr. Rainsy told about 200 residents of Boeng Kak I and Toek La’ak I communes. “They can’t develop when it affects your right to stay on this land.”
Families have already been told that they will need to move at least 3.5 meters away from the tracks during the first phase of the project and have demanded that the bank reveal their full plan for the railway through their community. The ADB has repeatedly refused to make its plans transparent.
Mr. Rainsy said that if he were unable to get answers through a meeting with the ADB, the opposition party would use its power in parliament to get a satisfactory response.
“Our lawmakers will call the ministers of relevant ministries to stand in front of the National Assembly when they are involved in land disputes,” the opposition leader said.
Community representative Ny Sandos, 40, told Mr. Rainsy that many of the families have been living along the railway since 1986 and have been informed by Toll Royal, the company managing the railway, that some of them may have to cede land within 15 meters of the tracks.
“We need your help, because we were told that we would be evicted soon with a small compensation package,” she said.