MORE than 100 families facing eviction from Preah Sihanouk province's Prey Nob district protested Tuesday, expressing frustration with how the expansion of the province's Kang Keng Airport is being handled.
A mixed force of police and military police were deployed to prevent possible violence after protesters attempted to stop three trucks from entering a 1.5-hectare plot of land that has been requisitioned for construction of a new air traffic control tower.
Chan Chamroeun, local investigator for the rights group Adhoc, told the Post Wednesday that he and other NGO staff observing the demonstration saw it end peacefully, despite fears on the part of villagers that violence might break out.
Lin Sarin, the chief of Ream commune, where the 1.5-hectare plot is located, told the Post Wednesday that the villagers had returned to their homes after the family that owned the plot in question was offered US$30,000 in compensation from the development company.
However, the other families facing eviction said they haven't been offered any compensation since the airport expansion plans were announced in 2006. According to Kang Keng community representative Seng Meng, their land is surrounded by the projected expansion and will likely be swallowed up by the project, which aims to increase tourism and commercial revenue for the area.
"We are not opposed to Kang Keng Airport's project, but we just want the company to pay a fair compensation to us so we can afford to buy other land for living," Seng Meng said.
"We haven't received any resolution from government representatives or company representatives."
Need for expansion
The airport expansion may become more pressing as progress is made towards a new national carrier. According to Mau Havannal, secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, an "anonymous private local company" was preparing documents to apply to run flights out of Kang Keng Airport. He told the Post Tuesday that further details on the company were unavailable.