Phnom Penh municipal officials inaugurated a massive $3-million road building project Wednesday that will see almost 8 km of pavement laid on Street 271, which rings the city from Pochentong Airport Road to Monivong Boulevard.
But the project is not being greeted with enthusiasm by hundreds of residents with roadside property in Chamkarmon and Tuol Kok districts who say they face losing a substantial amount of their land to the project, which will increase the road’s width from 7 meters to 17 meters.
Seng Tong, Phnom Penh first deputy governor, said the project will be carried out by Cambodian firm Civil Development Construction Co, Ltd in conjunction with Thai company SPT Ltd, working with a $3.18 million budget. The city will finance the project with money from the recent sale of the International Youth Club to the US, which bought the property near Wat Phnom last year for its new embassy, Seng Tong said.
Running through two Phnom Penh districts, the 7.7 km road project will affect hundreds of households, Seng Tong said. He appealed for public cooperation to ensure its completion.
“We appeal to settlers on both sides of Street 271 who have built houses to move them back. Those people must understand about the collective interest of our country,” he said. “The city authority has no choice and cannot avoid moving settlers,” to allow construction.
When the project is completed, it will provide motorists an alternative to traveling through the center of Phnom Penh, he said.
Ouch Samnang, chief of Doeun Thkov commune in Chamkarmon district, said feelings about the project are mixed among the 300 families that will be affected.
While most families will not lose land and are happy that the new asphalt surface will reduce the year-round dust problem, other families will lose between two and three meters of land.
Faced with moving his house from the edge of Street 271, Pom On, 36, appealed to the municipality Wednesday to pay compensation to those who cannot afford to comply with the directive.
“Every house is affected and we have been living here for many years,” said Chea Khim Hak, another roadside resident. “How can we move if we are poor and have no money?”
Governor Chea Sophara said Wednesday he was open to compromise, and he promised to resolve grievances.
“I will solve all those problems [and] look directly at how much impact it has on those houses,” Chea Sophara said.
He said an additional $1.8 million from the sale of the youth club will be used for other road construction.