Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Boeung Kak lake, which is being filled in by Shukaku Inc and a Chinese firm, from Canadia Tower in Phnom Penh last week.
Residents facing eviction from Boeung Kak lake in Phnom Penh are expected to re-submit their plans for on-site relocation today after a proposal introduced on Friday by City Hall was deemed inadequate.
Nine representatives for residents met with Phnom Penh deputy governor Nuon Sameth on Friday to discuss a plan for on-site housing proposed by the city and Shukaku Inc, the company run by ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin that is developing the 133-hectare site with China-based Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co.
Tol Srey Pao, a Boeung Kak community representative, said the offer fell short of expectations and resembled much-derided on-site relocation housing opened last year in Prampi Makara district’s Borei Keila.
“Each family wants a 4x16-metre house at the ground level with strong construction, not a building such as Borei Keila that has five storeys. If they construct a building that’s the same as Borei Keila, we cannot accept it,” she said after the meeting.
Tol Srey Pao said residents had already adjusted a proposal they had submitted in March that would have set aside 15 hectares of land from the development for relocation housing but that was dismissed by the city. Last month, they submitted a request for 4x16-metre houses for villagers with “small” plots of land, and two or more such homes for residents with “large” plots.
“We will hold a protest again on Monday, because the result of the meeting is negative,” Tol Srey Pao said.
Officials at Phnom Penh Municipal Hall could not be reached for comment after the meeting. Sia Phearum, secretariat director of NGO Housing Rights Task Force, said the city’s plan for 7x7.5-metre flats in six-story buildings had been designed without input from the community. Residents have pushed for ground-level housing so that they can operate businesses from their homes.
“If they stay on the sixth floor, they will lose their income,” Sia Phearum said yesterday.
Although the meeting ended inconclusively, he welcomed the negotiations and urged both sides to continue the talks. Residents have been tasked with re-submitting their plans today, he added.
Sia Phearum said growing international pressure over the project, which rights groups say will ultimately displace over 4,000 families, as well as upcoming local and parliamentary elections, could be weighing on the minds of local officials.
“What we understand now is that the [city officials] want to resolve this problem because Boeung Kak lake is a very bad image – its development violated the people, the human rights,” he said.
“I just encourage the [city] to work cooperatively very well with the residents and then restore our image in the world.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THOMAS MILLER