RESIDENTS living in the iconic Bassac apartment complex in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune will not be eligible to apply for land titles due to the area being too “complicated” to delineate, local officials said on Monday.
In a letter to Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Touch Sarom, Chhay Rithy Sen, the director of the city’s Department of Land Management, said a total of seven areas in the commune would be excluded from land titling.
The letter said the decaying apartment block – also known as The Building – was too difficult to title because of problems disentangling the claims
of its hundreds of residents.
Khat Narith, Tonle Bassac commune chief, said on Monday that the seven zones were considered “complicated areas”, and that local authorities were awaiting orders from senior officials about how to proceed. He said the Bassac building was home to so many families living in a state of “co-ownership” that it was difficult for City Hall to issue them land titles.
The letter also excluded the issuing of titles for two local pagodas – where it said residents are squatting – and added that the T85 and T87 tracts of land, near the recently evicted Rik Reay community, were under a government directive offering a private company the right to buy land from residents at “an agreed price”.
The announcement came after authorities met on Friday with residents in Tonle Bassac, which has seen a rash of forced evictions over the past decade, to announce plans to issue land titles for the area.
Local residents, however, say they have heard little about the chance to claim titles for their land. One 32-year-old resident of the Bassac apartment block said Monday that she knew nothing about last Friday’s meeting or information on whether she could claim a land title.
“I have lived here since 1993, so I should have the right to get a land title,” she said.
Am Sam Ath, a monitor for rights group Licadho, said that according to the Kingdom’s 2001 Land Law, the government should grant land titles to residents in the building who have lived there peacefully for more than five years.
“If they are not given land titles, they will live in fear that they will be evicted some day like the Dey Krahorm, Group 78 or Rik Reay communities,” he said.