HUNDREDS of families living in homes perched precariously on the banks of the Siem Reap River in Siem Reap town are to be relocated in a bid to “beautify” the town, officials said on Monday.
Provincial officials have concluded a survey of families living along a 2-kilometre stretch of the riverbank in preparation to move them to a relocation site between 30 and 40 kilometres away in Banteay Srey district.
Tep Bunchhay, the governor of Siem Reap town, said: “We will construct parks and enlarge roads along the river to make the town more beautiful.” The river water has been too dirty for people to swim in safely since about 1996, he added.
The exact date of the eviction and the amount of land each family will be offered at the relocation site has yet to be determined, Tep Bunchhay said.
But he made it clear that no money will be offered to the villagers if they reject the social land concession.
One resident, 53-year-old Heang Sophal, confirmed that a group of about 10 officials had measured his house, taken a photo and enquired about the size of his family, but said they had not explained why they were doing so.
“We’ve been hearing for a long time that officials plan to relocate the people here, but we never saw any real action,” he said.
“We are willing to move away from here, but we need money. I can leave if the authorities give me US$2,000 to buy a small plot of land on the outskirts of town. No one wants to live in the forest.”
Um Chantha, 40, has lived on the riverbank for 14 years. Officials measured her home last week and told her to prepare herself to move.
“What makes me most worried is that my kids will lose their schools,” she said, expressing concern about how moving to a location far from the town would affect her income. Fellow vendor Ly Yi, 43, said she was fearful of being moved to a rural location, but said, “It is unavoidable because the authorities need to develop the town.”
The results of the survey are due to be released this week.