Sou Ching Port Investment Company has halted construction of a new port and adjoining facilities in Siem Reap town amid complaints from neighbours that sand-dumping for the project was encroaching on their farmland.
In building the new facility on the Tonle Sap lake, the company had been using sand to fill in flooded areas where the new structures will go, but several villagers have claimed the sand was being dumped on land they own. Siem Reap City Governor So Platong said yesterday that the stoppage was in response to a directive from local authorities issued on January 2, which demands they formulate a solution with the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).
“We will invite the company to discuss a solution this weekend. There were five families who have been impacted. We have attempted to broker a compromise in the past. The company has claimed it was its land, while people claimed it was their land – this is the dispute,” said Platong. He added that the CDC had come to check the plot, but did not yet know what conclusions they had drawn.
“The CDC and Sou Ching Company are [examining the problem],” he said, adding that the firm belongs to Var Chhou Da, a lieutenant general in the National Police with royally bestowed okhna status.
Kong Pri, one of the villagers affected by the project, yesterday said he believed some of the land in question may have been granted as a land concession by the government, a move that would demand compensation.
“The company has built 40 or 50 metres into my land,” he said. “If they want our land, they must pay proper compensation.”
CDC could not be reached, and a representative of Sou Ching declined to comment.