Almost 90 families who will lose or have already lost their land due to a road widening project on National Road 6A in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district have refused offers by municipal officials for relocation in Kandal province, officials and villagers said Monday.
Kaob Sles, deputy governor of Russei Keo district, said that City Hall on Saturday offered the families, from Chroy Changva and Prek Leap communes, relocation to Kandal’s Ponhea Leu district, 27 kilometers north of the capital.
Twenty of the families lost their homes in October in a previous expansion of the road on the east side of the Japanese Friendship Bridge and are awaiting compensation offsite. In April, more than 70 families learned their homes will also have to be demolished to make way for the wider road.
Of the 93 affected families, all but four have rejected the relocation offer, Mr Sles said.
“Whatever the locations, when we bring it to discuss with them they don’t accept. In the future, when we enforce the order, they will just protest,” he said.
“By law, they should not be offered anything due to road enlargement as they have no land title,” the deputy governor added.
Four families had agreed on Monday to move to the Kandal province relocation site where they will be give 6-meter by 8-meter plot of land and $500.
A notice from Phnom Penh municipality dated April 23 states the municipal department of public works and transportation will enlarge four kilometers of the busy National Road 6A from east of the Japanese Friendship Bridge by up to 27.50 meters in width. When sidewalks and hard shoulders are included, the road will be widened to 60 meter in total.
More than 50 of the home owners scheduled for eviction attended a Saturday meeting with district authorities where community representatives argued that the proposed relocation site was too far from the capital.
“The land is really far and there is no electricity power or tap water,” said Soeng Phon, 46, a father of five who owns a 13-meter by 20-meters concrete shop house built around 10 years ago.
“We do not want to oppose the government project which will serve the public. We just want better compensation,” Mr Phon said.
Mr Phon said the affected residents wish to be relocated to land near the capital where their children would have better access to schools and government services. He said the district authorities should pay them $10,000 in compensation, the amount of money needed to buy another small plot of land on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.