VILLAGERS involved in a land dispute with a sugar company in Kampong Speu province’s Thpong district on Thursday rejected an offer to exchange their land for plots near the foot of Pis Mountain, saying the area is not arable.
They also bemoaned the unwillingness of provincial authorities to allow all affected villagers to relocate to an area along National Road 52, another option offered by the company.
Suon Ly, a villager who visited the two proposed relocation sites on Thursday, said the Pis Mountain site could not be farmed because the soil is too rocky.
“We want to live along Road 52 because the soil is better and it has a pond, so it is better for planting,” he said.
Thpong district Governor Tuon Song said he agreed that “all villagers” affected by the concession should be allowed to relocate to the site along National Road 52, though provincial officials have said that space there is limited.
More than 2,000 families in 11 villages in Omlaing commune are facing eviction to make way for a 9,000-hectare concession granted to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat.
In a Wednesday meeting, Ly Yong Phat told villagers they would not be allowed to plant crops on the disputed land this year, and that they would be forced to relocate, but he promised to provide them with replacement land matching the size of their current plots.