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City plans roads into BK site

A REPRESENTATIVE of the company behind the controversial Boeung Kak lake development met with Phnom Penh municipal and district authorities on Tuesday about plans to build access roads into the secretive real estate project, officials said.

City Hall is planning to construct 12 new roads, each 20 to 50 metres wide, as part of infrastructure for the massive development, said Sok Penhvuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district.

He said the site will be supported by four major access roads into the project: a northern road leading to Street 70, an eastern access point to Monivong Boulevard, a southern road to Russian Confederation Boulevard and a western branch out to Mao Tse Tung Boulevard.

Huot Hai, a deputy cabinet director at the Phnom Penh Municipality, said a recently approved master plan for the project – which has not been publicly released – calls for the site to be divided into separate business, residential, political and tourist zones.

“It will be able to promote the city to make it as famous as other regional countries,” he said.

A Post reporter was barred from attending Tuesday’s meeting. A veil of relative secrecy has shrouded the Boeung Kak lake project since 2007, when authorities announced they had signed a long-term lease of the 133-hectare site to Shukaku Inc, a private company headed by Cambodian
People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

Since then, area residents say they have been kept in the dark about plans for the project, which is expected to lead to the evictions of an estimated 4,000 families.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Chan Na, a Shukaku representative, declined to comment after the meeting, and said only that City Hall is responsible for planning road infrastructure for the project.

In the past few years, authorities have filled in large swathes of the lake, and an estimated 1,000 families have been moved after accepting
compensation offers from the government.

Sok Penhvuth said authorities will continue to implore remaining families to move.

“We will make an effort to reconcile with people to volunteer to accept the compensation,” he said. “No one will be forced to move or be evicted from their homes due to the development of the Boeung Kak area.”

Many residents, however, are demanding that they be issued land titles in accordance with the 2001 Land Law – countering the government’s oft-repeated claims that the lake area is state-owned.

Residents like Sam Vanna, who believes her home will be demolished to make way for the development, say the government’s offer of US$8,500 in compensation or a plot of land on the outskirts of the city is unacceptable.

“We will not move from our homes,” she said. “We want to live close to the development.”

Housing rights advocates continued to deplore the secretive nature of the Boeung Kak lake development Tuesday.

A design given to some villagers last month, which showed skyscrapers and villas surrounding a significantly smaller lake area, was the first image they had seen of a development. City Hall officials later confirmed that they had approved a master plan for the project.

“There is so much secrecy,” said Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force.

“So far, they have never let civil society or even the villagers know anything about the development. It’s really stressful for them.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEN DAVID AND IRWIN LOY

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