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Relocation deals unfair, say families

More than 400 families in Kampong Cham province’s Chup commune had filed a complaint yesterday to local authorities over relocation orders issued last week, villagers said.

Hom Hon, 55, a retired rubber plantation worker and former employee of Sopheak Nika Investment Group Company, said that on March 30, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the rubber company had given villagers 15 days to relocate to another village in the commune.

Hom Hon, a resident of the area for 30 years, questioned the fairness of the compensation promised.

“It is not equal. Some families got both houses and land.  I do not get a house. I only got a plot of land,” he said, adding that he had been allocated a 10- x 20-metre plot of land and US$850 in compensation for his previous 30- x 50-metre plot.

Oeun Khum, 51, another long-time resident, said her family lacked the time and funds to build a house on their new plot of land and were living in makeshift tents.

Chup commune chief Lach Veng said Sopheak Nika Investment Group wanted residents  – many of whom were their retired employees – to relocate in order to build housing for current workers.

“The company wants current workers to stay here, so it has moved retired workers and residents to live at a different place. This makes it easier for the company to control its workers,” he said.

More than 40 families had been given houses and land, Lach Veng said, but he dismissed complaints of a lack of transparency in land allocations, saying an evaluation committee set up by the agriculture ministry and the rubber company had compensated villagers according to the values of their properties.

Residents had been relocated to an area where a village would be developed, he said, adding that the authorities planned to build wells and streets, and supply electricity.

Chheng Nareth, deputy head of the provincial agriculture department, declined to comment on the complaints, confirming only that the land had been granted to Sopheak Nika Investment Group through a land concession.

Sopheak Nika Investment Group representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at sen.david@phnompenhpost.com

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