Work Starts on Tonle Sap Riverside Road, Affected Villagers Not Compensated

Authorities in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district started paving and widening the road that runs along the densely populated eastern bank of Tonle Sap river Monday, officials said yesterday. Local villagers welcomed the development, but complained that they were being forced to accept loss of land to road development without compensation.

Local commune chiefs explained the new road would run from Chroy Changva commune north through Prek Liep and Prek Tasek communes for about 14 km in total, from where it connects with another road that links up with National Road 6A.

Chroy Changva commune chief Pich Saroeun said, “The road width is 9 meters, and we will pave the way,” adding that the new road would provide an alternative route for busy traffic coming from the Japanese Friendship Bridge.

Mr Saroeun acknowledged road construction would cut off swathes of land from housing plots of hundreds of families that live in the communes, but argued there was no need to compensate villagers as they had encroached onto the roadside while building their homes.

“Villagers agreed to the new road…they dismantled [part of their homes] themselves,” he said, adding that villagers had been informed of the construction work 15 days in advance.

As excavators broke up the road under the Japanese Friendship Bridge yesterday morning, clearing away doorsteps and in some cases parts of homes, local residents looked on apprehensively.

Many said they wanted compensation for loss of property, adding however, that they were too scared of retributions by authorities to demand it.

A 61-year-old villager, who declined to be named, complained about the new road while she sat inside her house, which lacked a front wall after workers had removed it.

“We are happy with the new road, but I feel bad for the damage to my house,” she said.

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