Villagers and guesthouse employees in Sihanoukville used shovels and hoes to clear an access road on Wednesday afternoon, which a military police bulldozer had blocked with dirt to prevent vehicles from entering a disputed area of land, court officials and witnesses said.
A land dispute between more than 100 families who were recently forced from the hill overlooking Serendipity beach and the owners of eight guesthouses, and Oknha Kong Triv, whose Pacific group has laid claim to the area, has been broiling since the Sihanoukville Municipality issued a Feb 4 eviction order on behalf of Kong Triv.
But about 30 evicted families have moved back and pitched tents on the land, witnesses said.
Sihanoukville police Deputy Chief Sean Kosal said Wednesday that he will consult with the governor to decide how to re-evict those families. He said the roadblock was authorized by a Pacific group representative, adding that the road was built by and is owned exclusively by Kong Triv.
But Edward Sok, co-owner of the Eden guesthouse, said the road has existed since the 1960s and was recently upgraded by guesthouse owners.
Municipal Prosecutor Meas Sopheak accused the villagers of reneging on their agreement to leave the area in exchange for $75 and a few sacks of rice.
Kong Triv said Wednesday that he did not know about the roadblock. “I rely on the law,” he said. “No one is above the law.”