Around 300 residents of the Boeng Kak lake area protested on Friday at the lakeside offices of Shukaku Inc, the firm currently filling the city center lake as part of a multi-million dollar residential development that will see more than 4,000 local families evicted or relocated.
Marking the second demonstration against the lake filling this week, the protestors began gathering at about 7 am, while around a dozen police officers in riot gear deployed to prevent the angry residents from entering the company’s site office at the lake.
Initially, Shukaku officials refused to allow any villagers inside the compound but, after a two-hour standoff, In Phan, deputy chief in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, told the hundreds of protestors that they should select five representatives to attend a meeting with company officials.
To loud applause from protestors, the five representatives emerged after just 30 minutes of talks inside the company’s office.
Sin Chany, one of those who was in the meeting, told reporters that company officials did not actually take part in talks but local authorities who participated in the meeting promised that the pumping of sand into the lake would stop.
Sin Chany, however, noted that the machine that is being used to pump a sand and water mix into Boeng Kak from the Tonle Sap river is currently broken, which may have been the reason for the promise that the pumping would cease.
According to Sin Chany, Daun Penh district Governor Sok Sambath also promised that he would take responsibility for any damage to villagers houses as a result of the pumping.
Contacted on Friday evening, Sok Sambath denied that there was any promise to suspend filling of the lake, which he said was a government-approved project to develop the area.
“This is the government’s policy to develop Boeng Kak so the company has an agreement with the government,” Sok Sambath said by telephone.
Currently, he added, pumping has stopped because one of two pumps at the lake has broken but as soon as it is repaired the pumping will begin again.
Officials at Shukaku could not be reached on Friday for comment.