A demand from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority for Boeng Kak lake residents to pay their bills in advance for June, July and August, has raised concerns that they will be evicted before September, though an official at the authority said the demand was only a precaution against non-payment if residents are relocated.
The requests for advanced payments have already reached some residents and more will reach Boeng Kak’s thousands of other residents by the end of this month, Sing Vuthy, the water authority’s head of invoice distribution and water-meter control, said on Friday.
Thousands of Boeng Kak residents are scheduled for eviction from the lake area to make way for a massive residential and commercial building development by the Shukaku firm, which is owned by a CPP senator. The firm is currently filling in Boeng Kak lake, which will then be built upon.
“We just want our clients in the Boeng Kak area to deposit three months advance payment because they live in the development area,” Mr Vuthy said. “Therefore, we are worried whenever they are relocated to a new place, it will be hard to collect the water fees from them,” he said.
Mr Vuthy denied the bill request meant that residents would be relocated within three months.
“Previous experience has taught us to be careful on this issue because previously there were some bad people who didn’t pay their water fees saying they were being relocated,” he added.
Ing Navy, a 45-year-old lake resident and community representative, said on Friday that she has never seen such a demand and questioned the motive.
“It’s quite strange because the Water Supply Authority’s deadline for advance payment makes me wonder if the residents will be forcibly evicted,” she said, adding that she had been ordered by the authority to cough up about $24 before June 28.
“If Phnom Penh Municipality is to evict us in the next three months, I’d like the municipality to publicly announce it, not do something very secret like this,” she added.
Phnom Penh Municipal Vice Governor Mann Chhoeun said that any relocation cannot move forward until a sub-decree from the Council of Minister clarifies which land is state land in the Boeng Kak area.
“Now the experts and related ministries are working on this to classify that area,” he said.