Local authorities met with Boeung Kak community members yesterday to register villagers left out of the oft-criticised resettlement scheme as a first step to providing them with titles and onsite housing.
More than 10 officials including police, commune and village chiefs as well as representatives of the Land Management Ministry and City Hall made up the two teams who went to the disputed area yesterday.
“We will work on this until it is completed,” said En Saphorn, Srah Chak deputy chief and one of the members of the working group. According to Saphorn, the group has been able to prepare land certificates for 20 families already.
Both residents and NGOs who have long fought City Hall over the exclusion of scores of families from a 12.44-hectare on-site resettlement plot said yesterday that they were thrilled to see the first concrete action since the site was proposed in 2011.
“I am so happy now,” said Boeung Kak representative Chan Puthisak.
“I believe that the officials will put us into the 12.44 hectares and give all 60 families land certificates,” he said.
In May, newly installed Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong promised to resolve the long-standing Boeung Kak lake land dispute, as well as that of Borei Keila, and quickly met with representatives in an unprecedented move.
“It’s better than before. And I think this latest action is a good sign that will lead to the conclusion of the land disputes in this area,” said Ee Sarom, programs coordinator at urban housing NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut.
But he and others said they would continue to closely monitor the situation and wouldn’t pull back until residents had been successfully settled.
Last week, Boeung Kak villagers were joined by protesters from Borei Keila and Thmor Kol in blocking the capital’s Monivong Boulevard as they demanded solutions to their respective land disputes. They were dispersed with a powerful water cannon, which knocked one woman unconscious.