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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Borei Keila residents retract their agreement with Phanimex

Borei Keila residents retract their agreement with Phanimex

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090115_04_1.jpg

Residents say the developer and local authorities have conspired to cheat locals out of the site’s shops that are rightfully theirs to rent

Photo by: THOMAS GAM NIELSEN

A child sits on a motorbike in the hotly contested downstairs section of Borei Keila – which residents say authorities and the site’s developer have conspired to privatise.

THE government's flagship relocation project, Borei Keila, descended further into chaos Wednesday, with residents saying they retract 1,257 thumbprints given to the commune chief late last year because he conspired with the site's developer to cheat them, residents told the Post Wednesday.

Borei Keila representative Nuon Sarat said the commune chief and private developer Phanimix plan to sell off shops at the site - which was meant to be a landmark social rehousing project but which residents and rights groups say has become mired in corruption and mismanagement.

"All of us would like to cancel our thumbprints [as] they cheated us into thinking they would construct a shop for people in this community to do business. In fact, they took this thumbprint to say that we agree with them to allow Phanimix to have the right to construct underground shops to rent to other people," he said.

Nuon Sarat said that shop-holders from the community have only ever paid US$10 per month to rent space in the building, but now the developer plans to make a more sizable profit by charging people outside the community higher rents.  The community is up in arms, saying that the buildings by rights belong to them and the company has no right to profit from renting out the community's shop-fronts.

But Hem Chok, chief of Borei Keila community, denied authorities were privatising the shops, saying they were merely looking for funding to develop the area for the residents' benefit.

The Borie Keila community is located on 14.12 hectares of land in Veal Vong commune, Prampi Makara district. It currently has nearly 1,800 families living in about 1,400 houses.

The government promised the community a "social land concession" - free or heavily subsidized housing - in exchange for them giving up their valuable inner-city land. Developer Phanimex was promised a cut of the land in Veal Vong in exchange for constructing the buildings.

"The company should finish building houses for the community before developing shops that help them make a profit," said the Phnom Penhmonitor for local rights group Adhoc, Chan Soveth, referring to the agreement between the government, company and evictees that stipulated the construction of a series of buildings to re-house the community. 

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