Road Project Taxes Families

If Lor Phala’s house moved back any further from the dirt road it sits on, it would hit a stone wall—its own.

Lor Phala’s house is one of 20 homes that the government wants either to move or demolish to accommodate a new road in Chroy Changva commune.

The only problem is that Lor Phala’s property ends at the back wall, and it cannot move back any farther.

The municipality wants to widen the road by 21 meters. The road, which runs down the west side of the peninsula, will lead to a meeting hall being built next to a stretch of grass by the Tonle Sap river, Russei Keo District Gov­ernor Touch Kim Heng said Wednesday. The government plans to use the hall to host a meeting of leaders from the 10 Asean countries and from India, China, South Korea and Japan in No­vember.

Money will be offered to homeowners affected by the construction, he said. The government does not yet know how many homes will be demolished and how many will be moved away from the road, he said.

Families whose houses are marked for demolition will be offered a 7-meter-by-15-meter plot of land  in the Anlong Kngan area in Khmuonh commune, Russei Keo district, according to Touch Kim Heng. Three families have already been moved to Anlong Kngan, he said.

However, one of the problems with this plan is that many families run small businesses on the roadside near their homes.

Lor Phala, 39, said the government promised her a new plot of land, but she has refused it, saying the move will not be good for business. Currently, her husband earns between $1 and $2 a day repairing motorcycles.

“I cannot sleep,” Lor Phala said. “I cannot eat.”

If the government does not give her the $15,000 she is asking for, she will refuse to move, she said. The $15,000 will be enough for her family to relocate and find new work, she said.

Meas Rathny, 38, also owns one of the houses on the road and has asked the government for $3,000 to move her home away from the road. But even then, she said, her house would only be 5 meters from the new road after it has been moved, she said.

Meas Rathny, who said she is disabled and cannot walk properly, earns about $2 a day selling Pepsi and from her husband’s motorcycle repair service.

“If I have enough money, the renovation will be fast. If the government pays little money, then the process of renovation will be very slow,” she said.

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