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Artists' relocation prioritised

Artists' relocation prioritised

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090108_2.jpg

Residents in Dey Krahorm will soon be relocated, city authorities say, but City Hall has announced plans to help artists and musicians stay downtown

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

A young resident at Dey Krahorm appears unperturbed by the community’s pending eviction on Wednesday.

AS municipal authorities move to evict the final residents from Dey Krahorm, they are sweetening the blow by prioritising the re-housing of the most celebrated residents of the central Phnom Penh community: its artists.

Most remaining residents wll have to settle for a compensation package worth around US$10,000 or alternative housing far from downtown.

But the families of singers and actors will be given first dibs on more expensive city-center housing so that they can continue to work as usual, according to a new plan released this month by Chamkarmon district authorities.

"We have a plan for disabled people like Chapei singers [Kong Nay and Neth Pe] to buy them new houses in exchange for theirs in Dey Krahorm," said Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun.

According to Mann Chhoeun, the municipality is aware that several players of the Chapei - a traditional Cambodian long-necked lute - and a number of famous actors and comedians are among those who will be forced to leave Dey Krahorm.

He said the authorities were keen to ensure that the disabled artists could stay in the city.

Priority housing

Two musicians, Kong Nay and Neth Pe, confirmed that they had been contacted by representatives of City Hall and the 7NG company - which is managing the relocation - to discuss the details of their move.

"They said we have first priority to get a house in the city,  but we could not find a house within the budget they have offered us," blind Chapei singer Kong Nay, 63, told the Post Tuesday.

The celebrated musician was the first of nearly a dozen actors at Dey Krahorm to be offered the chance to move to a house not located in Dangkor district's Damnak Trayoeng village, a relocation site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

He said that the house he had found cost $52,000, but that 7NG were only prepared to offer $48,000.

Neth Pe, another Chapei player who is also blind, said he met 7NG Chairman Srey Sothea on Thursday to discuss the company's offer, but also failed to agree on the sum the company would provide.

....They said we have first priority to get a house in the city.

"We do not need an apartment, but a house with land around it like our house right now because I hold Chapei classes for 14-plus students," Neth Pe said, adding that he fears that the company and authorities will not be able to find a house he wants.
Dey Krahorm was designated a social land concession in 2003.

But in 2006 the land was leased to 7NG, which said it  had plans to develop the property.

A protracted and sometimes violent land dispute erupted, with residents at first refusing to leave. But most of those living in the shantytown have since taken company buyouts, leaving only a few hundred holdouts.

7NG representatives could not be reached for a comment on Tuesday.

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