Villagers and Authorities Stand Their Ground in Chroy Changva

A community refusing to cede its land in Chroy Changva district to a powerful development company seems to be set for a showdown with local authorities after two days of negotiations failed to reach an agreement between the parties.

About 40 families from Kean Khleang village are preventing the Overseas Cambodian Investment Company (OCIC) from completing the first stage of its plan to turn the Phnom Penh peninsula into the $3 billion “Chroy Changva City: City of the Future.”

OCIC has pumped millions of cubic meters of sand onto the 387-hectare development site, but the families are protecting a seven-hectare chunk in the northeastern corner, which they say they have lived on since the 1980s.

At a meeting between concerned parties Wednesday, Chroy Changva district governor Khlaing Huot promised there would be no sand pumped onto their land, no forced eviction and no violence until a settlement is reached.

But since that meeting, neither side has offered any concessions, with the villagers unwilling to accept the compensation offer of homes in a nearby apartment block.

“The OCIC man told us that each flat is worth $60,000 and we should be happy to take it,” said Ly Leang Hak, one of eight villagers invited to the meeting, referring to OCIC project manager Touch Samnang.

“If they want us to relocate, sell the building and give us the money. Why not?”

Mr. Samnang declined to comment Friday.

Mr. Huot, the governor, said Friday that selling the building and paying cash was not possible.

“The master plan is to develop the city. The way the people live there makes the city look very bad,” he said.

Nan Ony, a legal officer with Housing Rights Task Force who has attempted to broker settlement between the two parties, said on Friday night that the breakdown in negotiations was worrying.

“The two sides have very strong thinking but it is very different thinking,” he said.

“If the two sides stay thinking like this, then there will be conflict.”

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