MORE than 120 families living in Prampi Makara district’s Borei Keila community staged a protest Wednesday outside their apartment complex, which is set to be turned over to a development company under a deal struck with city officials.
Nuth Sokly, a representative of the families, said the building was legally theirs because they had been occupying it for more than 30 years.
Under the 2001 Land Law, people who have been living on their land for five years or more qualify for ownership rights.
But the company that has purchased the land, Phanimex, has said the families will be forced to leave soon and has offered to put them up in buildings elsewhere in Borei Keila.
Nuth Sokly added that there had been no mention of financial compensation during discussions with Phanimex.
Prampi Makara district Governor Som Sovann said Wednesday that he had met with members of the affected families on Tuesday to listen to their complaints.
“I did not solve the problem for them yet, but I will send their suggestion to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema to take action, and maybe he will order me to do something with them,” he said, adding that he planned to send a document detailing the case to City Hall today.
But Nuth Sokly said the government had so far been unresponsive to the families’ concerns, pointing out that a letter sent to the Council of Ministers two months ago – in which they suggested that each family be provided with first-floor rooms as well as US$20,000 in compensation – had gone unanswered.
Nuth Sokly said the rooms offered by Phanimex measured 8 by 9 metres, which he said the families viewed as too small.
“We don’t agree with what the company wants to provide us with because we have been living here since 1979, so it is unfair for us,” he said.
Residents say they have not yet been given a deadline to vacate their homes, but that that a company representative told them on Sunday that they would not receive any compensation or even alternative housing if they did not agree to leave soon.
Suy Sophan, the director of Phanimex, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Seng Vutha, one of the residents who protested on Wednesday, accused Phanimex of caring only about money and of wanting “to kick us out like garbage”.
“The last choice for the families here is going to seek help from Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.