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Displaced families get new homes

RUSSEY Keo district authorities have relocated 35 families from the Tonle Sap riverside to new homes on the outskirts of the city, two years after they were made homeless by a riverbank collapse.

The families, who since the collapse have been living in makeshift structures in Sammaki village, Russey Keo commune, were presented with new brick homes in Dangkor district on Friday.

“We took them and their possessions to their new homes and provided house keys to them as well,” said Russey Keo commune chief Chan Samnang. The new homes, in Tuol Sambo village, each measure 4 by 8 metres, she said.

Hem Soklim, a representative of the families, said the community was glad to receive the new homes.

“We are very happy.... We almost can’t believe that we will receive brick homes, because we have waited for more than two years since our homes collapsed into the river,” he said.

Before departing for Tuol Sambo on Friday, 14-year-old Mak Chantha, who was plunged into the water when his house collapsed in 2008, said he was also happy to move off the unstable riverside land.

“I don’t want to live in my old house with the ruined tent roof,” he said.

But other residents say the threat of riverbank collapses could be used as a pretext to evict hundreds of families along the Tonle Sap who have been ordered to make way for a planned public park. Huot Danin, a representative from Klaing Saing village, also in Russey Keo commune, said the situation of that village was uncertain in advance of a municipal deadline looming today.

“Currently, we are very worried because the deadline that the authorities have set for us to pull down our houses is coming on Monday,” he said.

But Russey Keo district governor Khlaing Huot said yesterday that the deadline would be pushed back until he receives new orders from Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema.

“Currently, we won’t take any measures for their homes until we receive new regulations from City Hall,” he said.

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