Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Plank by plank, lakeside lives relocate

Plank by plank, lakeside lives relocate

Photo Essay by Vandy Rattana

Additional reporting by Mom Kunthear

As the sun rises over Boeung Kak lake, a young family resumes the long process of packing up their possessions and dismantling what has been their home for the past ten years. Som Kosal, a 35-year-old contract worker, his pregnant wife So Srey Aon  and their 10-year-old daughter Pisey are one of many families that have chosen to accept the US$8,500 compensation package offered by City Hall and local developer Shukaku Inc, in return for vacating their lakeside properties.

“I decided to take the money and leave because I have land in Kampong Speu province,” Som Kosal said. “Even though I reject leaving I cannot stay forever because the area will be developed soon, and we do not know what kind of action the government will take to deal with people [that stay].”

As the day continues, Som Kosal and a team of uncles, nephews and cousins tear down the family home plank by plank, working through the heavy afternoon rains. Srey Aon and Pisey make the most of their last moments with friends and neighbours as the slow deconstruction takes place around them.

As he removes the last roof plank, Som Kosal expresses concern about finding a new school for his daughter and finding work in the province, but he is hopeful that with this money he can build a good life for his family. Ten years ago, Som Kosal says, he paid $300 for his home at the lake. Today around $2,000 will be needed to build a house on the land he owns in his home province of Kampong Speu. The remainder will be used to launch a new business.

“I want to buy a house in Phnom Penh but I don’t have enough money. But I will buy one when I have money because I don’t want to live in the province forever,” Som Kosal said. “I will come back to live in Phnom Penh because it is easy to work and find money.”

Housing rights advocacy groups estimate that 4,050 families will be affected by the Boeung Kak development. All now face the same decision as Som Kosal and his family: stay and fight the eviction, or take the money and leave their homes behind. “There are some of my neighbours in the lake that asked me why I don’t take my protests to the governor of Phnom Penh Municipality, but I think it is useless for me to protest anymore.”

{gallery}news/national/081001/photoessay{/gallery}

0

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment

Latest Video

Bodies of Cambodian peacekeepers returned to Kingdom

The bodies of four Cambodian peacekeepers killed by a Christian militia in Central African Republic were repatriated to the Kingdom and honoured in an airport ceremony on May 21.

Phnom Penh eats: Ptas Nak Battambang

As the name suggests, Ptsa Nak Battambang – which in English means Battambang's house – is the right place for those who want to try some of the province's typical dishes in Phnom Penh.

Military police stand guard outside a polling station that was allegedly prematurely closed to eligible voters during the 2013 general election in Kandal province. Photo supplied

The Ministry of Defence on Friday lashed out at civil society and election monitoring groups, claiming a

Opposition leader Kem Sokha uses his hat to gesture to supporters during a campaign rally yesterday in Siem Reap province. Facebook

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threatened to unleash war on the opposition party if he loses patience with their campaign for the June 4 commune