ROUGHLY 200 families in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district have been told to tear down parts of their houses that officials say are encroaching on a public pavement, district Governor Kuch Chamroeun said Monday.
Kuch Chamroeun said officials had told the families that they wanted to widen carriageways to ease congestion on two heavily trafficked streets: Veng Sreng Boulevard and Choeung Ek Street.
“I want to remove buildings on the pavement because people took over the pavement to construct their houses, and if we do not prevent this our road will become narrow and more congested with traffic,” he said.
“Our authorities came today to spray red paint on their walls to mark the areas of their houses that must be torn down because they are encroaching on boundaries we have already marked.”
Veng Sreng Boulevard forms part of a route to Phnom Penh International Airport, and Choeung Ek Street is the only road leading to the “killing fields” tourism site.
Seang Phaly, 45, who said she has been living on Choeung Ek Street for five years, said she had not been told when her house was being constructed that it would encroach on a public pavement.
“I built this house about five years ago, and nobody told me I was building on a pavement,” she said.
“The authorities have not told us when the parts of our houses should be torn down, but they said it would happen as soon as possible.”
She said authorities on Monday sprayed red paint over parts of her house that stretched about 4 metres back from the road.
“I don’t dare act against the authorities, because if I do they will come and destroy my house completely. If we agree to tear down a bit of our house, we will still be left with somewhere to live,” she said.
Her neighbour, 38-year-old Chuon Somaly, also said he would comply with the order.
“I disagree with their accusation that I am living on the pavement, but in my experience villagers never win when they go against the authorities,” he said.
“I regret losing my property, but I will tear it down by myself because the authorities are never careful with our property.”