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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Residents encounter road development interference

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Houses in proximity to the decrepit railway are at risk of being torn down to make way for a road development. Moeun Nhean

Residents encounter road development interference

While big cities like Bangkok and Yangon eye the potential of railway expansions to enhance public transportation services, Phnom Penh authorities seem to have no interest in following suit.

It has been about a month since the Phnom Penh authorities started to uproot train tracks from Boeung Kak to National Road 6 following the announcement of Phnom Penh’s governor regarding the construction of twin roads over the railroad track from Kilometer 6 to the Boeung Kak area.

According to a post written on Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong’s Facebook page in June of last year, the construction of the roads on both sides of the railway from National Road 5 to R6 street (Boeung Kak) will be 5.62 kilometres long and 7 metres from the railway."

Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for City Hall to evaluate the possibility of a railway renovation from Boeung Kak to National Road 5 by building another traffic connection as a means to decrease traffic congestion along National Road 5, from Chroy Chongvar bridge to Kilometer 6 – the midpoint from the railway to National Road 5 in the capital’s north.

Recently, Post Property observed that hundreds of metres of steel supporting the train tracks, which begin at the intersection of National Road 5 up until the edge of Spean Kpous village and the start of Krol Ko village in Kilometer 6, had been removed. It has now been been completely replaced by machinery and construction workers.

Local resident Hout Ly Eng lives in a house adjacent to the railroad in Spean Kpous village, Sangkat Kilometer 6, Khan Russey Keo. He said there was once a sidewalk at the front of his house but it has since been demolished by City Hall workers.

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Residents along the railway face an uncertain future. Moeun Nhean

“City hall’s machinery and construction workers started their work last weekend by uprooting bits of steels,” Ly Eng said.

“According to City Hall officials, the government will demolish everything within 15 metres of the track’s arc; and that means that my house will be completely wiped out.”

Resident Pok Pov said he could have never foreseen the destruction that has accompanied the road development project.

“A few years back, they [the authorities] told us that they’d only wipe out 3.5 metres from the tracks, but now it has become 15 metres,” he said.

Pov explained, “According to what the City Hall has measured and drawn up, only two metres of my house will remain after the wipe out is completed. We are waiting to see how the authorities deal with this problem.”

“We want to meet up to discuss with the governor in order for him to calculate the total amount of money that will compensate the land and house value in accordance to the current market value.”

While there is ongoing commotion resulting from the railway demolition and road construction, there are still many properties along the railroad located in Spean Kpous village, while for sale signs advertising land have been erected in many spots.

The land owners have announced plans to sell their land at a value of $400 to $500 per square metre.

One land owner stated, “If this land affects the government, they would have to pay the amount that is due based on the market value. However, we are not sure when the government will start the project, because we’ve been hearing about this development plan for a long time, but there have been no concrete results yet”.

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