RUFA Families Find New Digs a Muddy Mess

Sixteen families that agreed two weeks ago to leave their homes at the Royal University of Fine Arts’ North Campus and move to new land are finding themselves in a partially filled-in lake.

The ground is too soft to build on, they said on Monday.

“We now are like frogs living in the middle of a lake,” said RUFA teacher Srey Narun.

In addition, they said, there is no access to drinking water, sewers or electricity, said Seng Chandara, also a RUFA teacher. “We have to spend a lot of money to buy water be­­cause there is neither state-run or privately run utility access,” she said.

At a July 9 meeting with representatives from the Mong Reththy Group, the 16 families agreed to $3,000 and a 10-by-5 meter lot to vacate RUFA. The com­pany ob­tained RUFA’s land from the government in exchange for rebuilding the university campus in Rus­sei Keo district.

Now the families are afraid their homes will collapse if they build on the soft ground, said Seng Chan­dara.

An Pagna, director of RUFA’s Cultural Research Department, said Monday that the land had al­ready been filled and if the families want better soil, it was up to them to pay for it. There is utility access at that location and the families just have to contact the local authorities, he said.

The site is 2 km from RUFA’s fu­ture campus. The families still are waiting for the $700 transport allocation promised by the company. They will get it when company Presi­dent Mong Reththy can take time from work, responded An Pagna.

Nine families have so far refused to abandon their North Campus homes.

“I won’t leave if the company con­tinues to treat people [who moved] that way,” said Thann Sin Thou, a RUFA teacher and community leader.

People who left were promised adequate living conditions and did not get them—they urgently need water and electricity access, she said.


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