More than 50 villagers who collect bamboo and rattan in the forests of Kampot’s Teuk Chhou district called on Kampot provincial hall for intervention yesterday after their trucks were banned from the area.
“Before, it was easy for us to enter the forest to find [the products] in order to support our daily life,” said Sat Chanta, a Teuk Chhou villager.
“But recently, they have banned us – especially the trucks and cars we use for transport. We ask them to make it easy for us, as it was before, because we are poor. We just depend on this small job finding rattan for our living.”
Sen Chhay, Mak Brang commune chief, said that residents who live near the resort area have been allowed to enter the forest to collect rattan because it is in the catchment area of a dam currently in construction.
“This is the dam project area, so they are allowed to clear the rattan around there, but we are afraid some residents do not clear the rattan but they log the forest, especially those who have trucks. We are afraid of them hiding luxury timber in the trucks,” he said.
Kampot deputy governor Ung Meng Hour said the ban was put in place to prevent this, and residents had only been blocked from using trucks.
“They still are permitted to find rattan as usual, but we ban the truck transport.”