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Villagers report threat to bulldoze homes along highway

MORE than 80 families in Russey Keo district have been given a week to vacate land along National Road 6 to make way for a highway expansion project, village representatives said yesterday.

Sing Phun, 46, a representative of 86 families who are set to be affected by the project in Chruoy Changvar commune’s Kean Klaing village, said authorities called them to a meeting at Russey Keo district hall yesterday, where they were ordered to vacate their current land within a week.
He said villagers were told to move to a relocation site about 25 kilometres away in Kandal province.

“They forced us to accept the land plots [measuring] 6 metres by 12 metres and 2 million riels [around US$476] in cash for relocating,” he said.

“They threatened to bulldoze our homes in seven days if we disagree, but we are not scared and objected to their eviction plan at the meeting.”

Sing Phun said the villagers will go to protest at City Hall today to call on Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema to grant them more compensation.

The $143,199 road expansion project is intended to ease traffic jams on a 4-kilometre stretch of National Road 6 running north from the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge. The project will expand the road from a width of 25 metres to 60 metres, including a 3-metre-wide pavement on each side and a 2.5-metre median strip.

Russey Keo district governor Khlaing Huot yesterday denied that a relocation order had been handed down, and said villagers were receiving money because they were being affected by the road-widening project.

“We never forced them to relocate,” he said. “We made efforts to help them receive the land and have some funds to live in peace.”

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