Roads a Priority, But Officials Short on Details About Affected Families

City and district officials yesterday offered few details about new roads planned for the Boeng Kak lake area, where a private firm is filling in the lake for a secretive and, according to housing rights groups, illegal construction project.

Some 100 lake residents spent the morning in front of the Council of Ministers yesterday protesting their pending evictions in the project’s wake and demanding land titles they say have been denied to them.

Phnom Penh deputy governor Mann Chhoeun said some lake residents would have to move to make way for the 12 roads that will dissect the area, but he did not know when work would begin. He declined to elaborate about the roads but said the city would set up a committee for affected families to “find common ground to solve the problem.”

“These roads will improve the public order of the city,” the deputy governor said. “They can reduce the traffic.”

Lake residents, however, said they had not heard anything about a roads committee.

As for the residents’ demands for legal land titles, Mr Chhoeun said he was waiting for a sub-decree from the Council of Ministers that would offer guidance on such a matter.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he knew nothing of such a sub-decree and referred the question to Khun Chinken, who holds a position at the council described as deputy secretary-general of the governor. Mr Chinken could not be reached for comment.

Daun Penh district governor Sok Sambath said three of the dozen roads planned for Boeng Kak had been identified as priorities: A 50-meter-wide road connected to Street 169, a 30-meter-wide road connecting Street 106, and a 20-meter-wide road leading to Neak Voan pagoda.

Like Mr Chhoeun, however, he offered few other details other than the roads would be good for traffic.

“It is not a Boeng Kak issue. It is an issue for the whole city,” Mr Sambath maintained. “It can reduce traffic on Russian Boulevard, at the south and north area” of the lake.

Srah Chak commune chief Chhay Thirith said the three priority roads would affect families in villages two and three, though lake residents fear the thoroughfares will also lead to the evictions of families in villages 20 and 22.

“The new roads will affect a lot of families,” said Ly Mom, a representative of the lake residents who took part in yesterday’s protest at the Council of Ministers.

“I want a land title, but if someone is affected by the building of the roads please [government officials] pay the market rate so they can buy a house in the city.”

 

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