FAMILIES in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district whose homes were torn down in October say authorities will again force them to move – this time from the makeshift tents and street-vendor umbrellas under which they have since taken shelter.
Sok Kim Hor, who represents more than 20 evicted families from Chroy Changvar commune’s Deumkor and Bie villages, said authorities have ordered him and other families to pull down their tents and make way for a road-development project.
The villagers say they have nowhere else to go: Since the October 15 eviction, the families have remained on the land where their homes once stood.
“They ordered us to move … but until now, they have not provided us with new land,” Sok Kim Hor said.
After last month’s eviction, in which authorities showed up unannounced and used excavators to plow through 20 homes, displaced families were offered rentals of 4-metre-by-8-metre plots in the capital’s Meanchey district.
However, families rejected the offer when they realised that they would have to rent the land. Others have demanded larger, 6-metre-by-15-metre plots or market prices for their destroyed homes.
Their demands went unanswered as the city shut down for last weekend’s Water Festival.
Sau Sunly, a member of the Chroy Changvar commune council, said he has submitted the families’ demands to City Hall but is waiting for instructions before responding.
More than 20 families, he said, are demanding land concessions, and four have asked for market prices for their former homes. Two families, he said, have suggested that they live on land left over from the road development.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeurn diverted a request for comment to district officials, but he did say that the road project was necessary to reduce traffic congestion in the capital.
Kop Shleh, deputy governor of Russey Keo district, did not answer calls from the Post on Thursday.
In the meantime, families face another looming deadline to leave.“The Water Festival is over, but they still have not resolved the issue,” said Muy Chea, 48, whose family was among those evicted.
He said he had experienced evictions before – under the Pol Pot regime.
“I remember that Pol Pot evicted people from their houses in Phnom Penh to the countryside, but Pol Pot provided new shelters for those evictees,” Muy Chea said.
“However, I am still hopeful the leader of the current government will not allow me and other families to live on the street.”