Squatters Defy Eviction Order

Despite an order from Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, squatters living on Street 474 in Chamkar Mon’s Boeng Trabek commune said they will not move unless the city pays them compensation or builds houses for them elsewhere in Phnom Penh.

The mid-August order affects more than 20 families, most of them carpenters and furniture makers, who say it is unfair to poor people, said Boeng Trabek commune Chief Sen Beau Te.

Sen Beau Te said he met the families to distribute the municipality’s formal eviction letter ordering residents to move their wooden houses to accommodate a new road. But many families refused to accept the letter, he said Thurs­day. Instead they claimed they would appeal the decision.

“It’s very difficult to force them to move because people living there are poor and have no ability to buy new land,” Sen Beau Te said.

The city has not said whether the residents will receive compensation or new land, he added.

Mao Kak, 45, a carpenter, lives above his carpentry shop with his family of six. He said the eviction order was part of a plan to move poor people out of Phnom Penh.

“I want compensation from the municipality or else I won’t move my house,” he said Thursday. “I’ve been living here a long time. Why do they need to evict me?”

Sen Beau Te said he would not permit residents to demonstrate. Instead he suggested they nominate a representative to talk to municipal officials.

Several residents said appealing to NGOs would be more ef­fective than demonstrating.

Peng Sokha, a furniture maker who has lived on Street 474 since 1984, said, “I know the municipality will not give permission for poor people to demonstrate be­cause they need our land to widen the road.”

He said, the municipality cannot understand the feelings of powerless people or the difficulties they face.

Sen Hor, 36, who has lived on Street 474 since 1989, said the road is wide enough to accommodate traffic. “It’s just a pretext,” he said. Residents should receive permits to stay like those in Borei Keila, near the Olympic Stadium, he said.

Chamkar Mon district Govern­or Chay Salong said Thursday that widening the road would make it too dangerous for people to continue living beside it. He said he had to follow the municipal order and could not compensate the displaced.


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