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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fire victim resettlement plan axed

Fire victim resettlement plan axed

TUOL Kork district officials have announced the cancellation of a plan to relocate 170 families made homeless by a March 8 fire in Boeung Kak 2 commune, saying they will instead need to rebuild on smaller plots at the site of the blaze.

At a meeting between families and district officials on Friday, Thim Sam An, Tuol Kork’s deputy district governor, said that because an additional 67 families had refused to move, the city had scrapped the relocation altogether. Distribution of replacement plots will begin “soon”, he added.

Until Friday, officials had promised to move 170 families to 5-by-12-metre plots of land in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune.

Meanwhile, the 67 families that refused relocation were told they could rebuild in the commune as long as they accepted smaller plots and left sufficient space for new access roads.

Thim Sam An’s announcement was not well-received by families that had already agreed to leave.

Seang Hai, a representative of the 170 families, said that the authorities should stick to the original relocation plan.

“We have been waiting for three months for the authorities to prepare the relocation site. They should still build infrastructure there and fill in the land, so it can be distributed to us,” she said. “I can’t live at the fire site on such a small plot.”

Sok Heng, another resident, said that before the blaze, her family of eight had lived in a 5-by-7-metre home.

“If the authorities cannot relocate us I must ask to rebuild a house on my old land because we cannot accept only a 3.92-metre by 5.5-metre plot,” she said.

Buth Ngim, a representative of the families that refused to move initially, called for the distribution of plots at the fire site as soon as possible.

“We cannot stay in tent shelters anymore. The roofs are wrecked. If the authorities cannot distribute land to us this month, they must let us build better temporary shelters,” he said.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that the announcement was good for the victims of the fire, since they have been spared the loss of income that has faced many residents evicted to the city’s outskirts.

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