Even with a new government building and a possible shopping center planned on either side of their homes, residents of Tonle Bassac commune’s beleaguered housing complex say they are not worried about eviction.
“People in these buildings have land titles and registration,” resident Yin Thong said Tuesday. “If they want to move us, they will have to offer a proper price and proper deal.”
A shopping center is planned on the site of a squatter village adjacent to the complex and, in exchange for the land, thousands of squatters will be moved over the next two years to one-room houses being constructed 20 km away in Dangkao district’s Choam Chao commune by construction company 7 N G.
But housing complex residents are not included as they are legal tenants, which some say guarantees they will be treated fairly.
“I am not afraid because we are not squatters,” said En Sopheap as she tended her shop. “If they want us to go, they will have to buy us.”
Others were not so sure they will have much of a choice.
“The government has power so they can do anything,” said one woman who has lived in the housing complex since 1979.
“If I don’t have this place, I don’t know where I will be able to live,” she said.
Inside the squatter village, more than 134 families had thumbprinted a contract with
7 N G to move once the company finishes building their new homes.
Others said they were waiting until the houses were finished before making a decision, adding they did not really want to move.
“If I go there, I don’t know what I’m going to do to earn a living,” said Reach Kong, 60, a motorbike taxi driver.
Phann Narin, the appointed community chief overseeing the contract signings, said if the majority agree to move, those left behind will not have a choice.
“If 60 to 70 percent agree to go, the small minority cannot oppose the development,” he said.