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Koh Rong dispute
Villagers on Koh Rong island in Preah Sihanouk province try to stop an excavator from working on the development of a resort by Royal Group that they fear will lead to evictions. Photo supplied.

Royal dispute: Villagers halt work on Koh Rong road

Some Koh Rong villagers on Friday staged a sit-in over plans by the island’s developers Royal Group to build a road through their village.

For about an hour, the group blocked three excavators and a bulldozer being used by Royal Group to build the road, currently about 100 metres from Koh Touch village.

Village chief Siek Li said the village’s 114 families, many who have lived in the area for 20 years, feared some of their homes would be cleared to make way for the road.

“We do not oppose the construction but if the road is built, it will affect our homes, we want the company to build the road around the village,” Li said, adding he had asked provincial authorities to intervene.

Speaking after the protest, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Governor Chhit Sokhon said he had requested the company halt construction so a solution could be found.

‘‘The company has the right to develop the island from the CDC [Council for the Development of Cambodia], but the people have the right to live in this area too,” Sokhon said.

In 2008, Royal Group, owned by tycoon Kith Meng, was granted a 99-year lease to develop the island.

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