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Protest blocks national road

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Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Equipment sits at a digging site yesterday in Dangkor district, where villagers burned tyres and blocked National Road 2 to protest against a company they claim is encroaching on their farmland.

More than 100 residents from two villages in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district burned tyres on National Road No. 2 yesterday to protest against an earthmoving company’s diggings, which they said were causing their land to sink and collapse.

Residents of Srey Snom and Kraing Svay villages, in Prek Kompoes commune, told the Post the Khutdyvathana company dug up and removed “truckloads” of dirt from an adjoining property each day.

This had created a huge hole, causing the villagers’ land to collapse into it.

The villagers fear their houses will be next.

They blocked the busy road to demand that the company stop digging, saying it was affecting their rice fields and plantations and the company’s trucks were polluting the environment.

Sum Siem, 45, said her four hectares of rice fields had sunk in the past three years. She had reported the issue to the company and authorities, but had not been offered a solution.

“If they keep digging, we worry that one day there will be no more rice fields for us to use,” she said.

Resident So Mony said Khutdyvathana had been excavating on the site for three years, creating a deep hole.

As much as eight hectares of some villagers’ land had been damaged, So Mony said.

“We are protesting to ask them to shut down their operation, because it makes our rice fields collapse,” he said.

Korn Soken, deputy chief of Prek Kompoes commune, said digging was affecting the villagers’ land and had an impact on the environment.

The authority had asked the company to solve the problem in the past, but it had not complied, he said.

Huon Savuth, an assistant to Khutdyvathana’s director, said the company had met with villagers and agreed to compensate some of them. “Only three or four families have been affected, not hundreds,” he said.

Dangkor district governor Nut Puthdara could not be reached for comment.

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