ABOUT 40 residents of Boeung Kak lake's Village 2 and Village 4 held protests in front of City Hall on Tuesday, requesting that they be allowed to stay at the lakeside temporarily while on-site replacement housing is being constructed for them.
Most of the families in the two villages have agreed to make way for a private housing and commercial development in the area, but have rejected officials' demands that they wait at Trapaing Anchanh relocation site, around 20 kilometres from the city.
"We will protest every day in front of City Hall to ask the authorities to help us live temporarily in our own area," resident Pol Toris said, adding that the Trapaing Anchanh site lacks access to schools and health facilities.
City officials have given residents until Sunday to relocate, warning that they will face "administrative measures" if they remain past the deadline and disavowing responsibility for any damage to residents' property that might result.
Despite the looming deadline, Pol Toris said residents were standing firm and pledged to remain at the site.
"If the deadline arrives, I will stay in my house and I will let them tear [it] down," he said.
"I would rather die in our place than move to Trapaing Anchanh."
Sia Pheareum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that the move to the outskirts of the city would make life extremely difficult for Village 2 and Village 4 residents, cutting them off from the livelihoods they currently enjoy in the city centre.
"City Hall should find a middle way. If they evict people from the community, it will affect the government's policy of fighting poverty and will increase the number of poor people," he said.
Sok Penh Vuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district, said he has had no dealings with the residents, but stood ready to implement "administrative measures" if the villagers stay past Sunday's deadline.
Families have been leaving the Boeung Kak lakeside since last August, when little-known developer Shukaku Inc began filling the lake with sand.
Over 4,000 families are expected to move to make way for the project.