LOCAL residents fear a developer is set to resume sand pumping today at the Boeung Kak lakeside that has submerged dozens of homes since last week, with homeowners held off at gunpoint.
Ty Pisey, a resident of the lakeside’s Village 1 in Daun Penh district, said company representatives had halted pumping on Friday and told villagers they had three days to collect their belongings. Last week, according to local rights group Adhoc, roughly 40 homes were submerged over three days of pumping by Shukaku Inc, a firm developing the lakeside that is owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.
“I am not sure when they will start pumping again,” Ty Pisey said. “The deputy district governor asked us to meet with the company and the municipality, but they always turn us away and tell us to talk to other people.”
Daun Penh district deputy governor Sok Penh Vuth said he had no authority to intervene in the matter.
“The company has the right to invest,” he said. “It is normal that development affects people, so they should take the compensation.”
Boeung Kak resident You Ro, 24, said he and other residents had not even been allowed to collect their possessions as their homes were covered in sand and mud. A Shukaku representative wielding an assault rifle threatened him when he attempted to stop his family’s trees from being destroyed by an excavator, he added.
“They said they would fire on anyone who tried to stop them,” You Ro said. “The government’s development project is robbing the people and making them cry.”
Shukaku has been granted a 99-year lease to develop a 133-hectare project that rights groups say will ultimately displace more than 4,000 families. Those affected have been offered roughly US$238 in compensation and 5-by-12-metre plots of land in Dangkor district, or cash payments of $8,470, though some residents claim they are being denied full compensation.
Businesses and homes along the lakeside have been inundated with sewage and floodwater in recent weeks as the sand pumping has disrupted drainage in the area.
Phnom Penh deputy governor Nuon Sameth declined to comment yesterday.