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Student surveyors home for holidays

After months spent surveying land for an ambitious land-titling project, thousands of student volunteers have been granted a short reprieve to return home over the Pchum Ben holiday, the prime minister announced yesterday.

At a graduation ceremony in the capital yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the 139 groups of some 2,000 students who had been deployed mid-year to help demarcate land as the first step to awarding tens of thousands of titles would be awarded a few days off.

Wary of the calamity that could ensue as the students flocked back to the capital for a holiday from Saturday to Tuesday, Hun Sen ordered authorities to be on high alert for the influx.

“All travelling must be with high caution because the convoys will be preceded by the military police,” he said, and issued a general warning to all citizens to drive carefully during the break to avoid senseless deaths.

During Pchum Ben last year, there were 52 road accident fatalities and 556 injuries, double the number of deaths during other days in the same month, the Cambodia Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System shows. Eighty-two per cent of victims were motorcyclists.

Students in Kampong Cham will have to wait one extra day for their leave, because the premier was scheduled to hand out land titles in one district there, Hun Sen said, adding that authorities must hurry up and pay the volunteers ahead of the holiday.

The government began sending the volunteer students, adorned in military fatigues, across the country on June 28 to measure 1.2 million hectares of land for 350,000 families as part of a national land-titling scheme Hun Sen announced amid mounting unrest over land grabbing.

All factory workers are also granted one week off beginning yesterday for a holiday and to check their names on voting lists in their home provinces, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has announced.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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