OFFICIALS in three municipal departments are up in arms about a decision to relocate their offices to the capital’s outskirts, a move rights groups have alleged is a clear attempt by the government to profit from the sale of land close to the city centre.
The Council of Ministers issued a directive earlier this month stating that three departments – the Department of Economy and Finance, the Department of Culture and Fine Arts and the Department of Information – would be moved from their current location near the Council of Ministers building on Russian Federation Boulevard to Dangkor district.
Sok Chea, deputy director of the Information Department, said he was not sure when the relocation would take place, but expressed concern that it would create an undue burden on his staff.
“I heard my department will move to Prey Sar commune,” he said.
“My officers will face a lot of problems, as some of them don’t have motorbikes for riding to work because their houses were close to the office, so they could walk.”
He said he planned to ask the government for US$4,000 per staff member to help with the adjustment.
Nget Chendary, director of the Economy and Finance Department, said he had not yet seen the directive but was also worried about the move.
“We’ve just heard the rumours. If this news becomes true, it will make things more difficult for my staff because it is far from the city,” he said.
Chum Vutdy, deputy director of the Culture and Fine Arts Department, said the government should compensate his workers, too.
“Our culture officers are too poor. We don’t have enough money to pay for petrol to get to work,” he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday that he did not know anything about the directive.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said Wednesday that the government was likely moving the departments so it could sell the land.
“The government always said that the department [building] is too old, but the real reason is because the land there is too [valuable],” he said.
“The relocation to the outskirts [of Phnom Penh] will really affect officers because it is far from the town and they have to pay more money to go to work.”