Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Authorities tighten access to Sesan resettlement sites



Authorities tighten access to Sesan resettlement sites

One of the checkpoints set up by authorities on the road leading to the new Srekor village resettlement site. RFA
One of the checkpoints set up by authorities on the road leading to the new Srekor village resettlement site. RFA

Authorities tighten access to Sesan resettlement sites

Authorities in Stung Treng province are preventing outsiders, including NGOs, from accessing resettlement sites for villagers displaced by the Lower Sesan II dam unless they apply for and are granted permission beforehand.

In all, 743 families from Srekor and Kbal Romeas villages have moved to the newly built settlements because of flooding in the reservoir area of the dam, which was tested last month and is scheduled to go online in September.

Srekor Commune Chief Siek Mekong yesterday said outsiders, including NGOs and journalists, must ask permission from the provincial authorities to access a paved road linking National Road 78 to the resettlement site for Srekor village, which is about 37 kilometres away and past the Lower Sesan II dam. “If any outsiders want to pass the road, they need to ask permission from the provincial authorities. It is a new restriction,” said Mekong.

Travellers could previously access Srekor or Kbal Romeas villages via the Srepok Bridge, but since it was dismantled last month because of impending floods they have been using an old national road to access the reservoir area and the resettlement sites.

When police blocked that route, people entering the area from outside began using the paved road to the resettlement sites, which now also has checkpoints staffed with Military Police officials, according to Mekong. Outsiders who wish to visit their relatives also need to get permission from the authorities, he said.

One resident of the resettlement site for Srekor village, Heng Sophea, 39, claimed that staff from NGO International Justice Mission (IJM) attempted to give her a ride to one of the resettlement sites after receiving treatment for severe joint pain, but their car was stopped by three men in civilian clothes.

“We asked them to let the NGO to take me in, but they strongly disagreed even though the commune chief intervened,” Sophea said.

She finally took a local taxi to the resettlement site. An IJM representative declined to comment.

“We are not happy about it. NGOs could not access to give any education, training, or give any aid to the villagers at new site,” he said.

Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman Men Kong said the Hydro Power Lower Sesan II Company asked for military policemen to safeguard the area for security reasons, such as preventing intruders from stealing company property.

He said “legitimate” NGOs would be allowed to access the resettlement sites “if they have a clear and good reason”.

A previous version of this article described Siek Mekong as the former Srekor Commune Chief. He is actually a former Srekor Commune Chief for the Sam Rainsy Party but the current Commune Chief for the Cambodia National Rescue Party. The Post apologises for the error.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring