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Slight progress on dispute between villagers, OCIC

Villagers in the capital’s Chroy Changvar district have cautiously accepted a plan to build roads through their community following a meeting yesterday with the developer of a huge satellite city planned for the area.

Nan Ony, legal officer at the Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), who was with villagers at the meeting with the Overseas Cambodian Investment Company (OCIC) yesterday, said the more than 200 families now supported the project because they believed they would reap the benefits.

“However, the size and length of the new roads and the compensation arrangements have not been discussed yet,” he said.

The planned roads will be built next to National Road 6 and through the planned satellite city, where residents have been in a land dispute with OCIC for several years.

The 387-hectare satellite city project will cost $1.6 billion, and villagers there claim to have lived on the land since before the 1993 UNTAC elections.

Chheng Yeun, a representative of the Prek Leap community, said the company had said it would link the roads to the highway, although the details of the plan had not been unanimously agreed upon.

“Our people agree with the new development plan, but we want measuring and evaluation on the effect of the plan first, including the compensation, before starting to clear the land,” he said. “Doing that would help to avoid conflict between the people, authorities and the company in the future.”

Klaing Huoth, Chroy Changva district governor, yesterday heaped praise on the company’s plans, which he said would help to alleviate traffic in the city centre.

“We do not know clearly how much the company can do to build these new roads,” he said. “But we want a big one and the longer the better, in our view.”

“If, after the assessment is done, it is pointed out that there are many people affected, the company and Phnom Penh municipality will relocate the [roads],” he said, adding that a team had already begun to measure the site of the planned new bypass following yesterday’s meeting.

Touch Samnang, OCIC project manager, said that the plans for the bypass would go ahead and it would stretch for 6 kilometres to National Road 6.

Last month, villagers who had not signed relocation agreements with the company received a new compensation offer from OCIC which would allow them to keep only 10 per cent of their land, a proposal that HRTF’s Ony said had “deeply disappointed” them.

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