Squatters and City Officials To Discuss Plans for Resettlement

Residents of a Stung Mean­chey district squatter village who face possible eviction are scheduled to discuss resettlement plans with the city this week, city officials say.

The approximately 350 residents—including squatters from Chamkar Mon and Dangkao districts—must move because they are living at the site of a future sewage drainage canal, to be built by the city with money from an unidentified Japanese NGO, city officials said.

“We must move the squatters within three months because they are blocking the drainage system,” Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara said last week. “The drainage canal will affect their housing and their health.”

One option the city is considering is moving the group to             1-hectare plots near Route 4 south of Phnom Penh, Chea Sophara said. But any decision will include the input and recommendations of the residents to be displaced, he said.

“We still haven’t discussed this with the squatters, so we do not know where we will move them,” the governor said.

Residents of the Stung Mean­chey district village, located di­rect­ly underneath the Stung Mean­chey bridge, said city officials and police ordered them to move on several occasions in April. At least two residents said they would move voluntarily if the city provided adequate plots of land in Stung Meanchey district and some com­pensation for their move.

“I would like to live in this district and commune because I sell rice to villagers near here and cannot go far,” said Soung Rotha, 36, who has been living in the village since 1995.

Seang Rotha’s house, which she bought seven years ago from a squatter, is propped up on stilts several meters off the ground to keep it dry. Since the village is located under a bridge in an undeveloped canal, the residents said they are worried about flooding when the rainy season comes.

Long Houy, 52, also lives at the Stung Meanchey village. Al­though it was a sewer for years, he said he expects compensation from the city but hopes that differences between the two sides can be resolved amicably.

“I will move because I do not want to oppose the government,” Long Houy said. “But we need some land.”


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