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Boeung Kak villagers closer to land titles

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong meets with villagers in July. Yesterday, authorities took the initial steps in the land-titling process for more than 30 families at Boeung Kak.
Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong meets with villagers in July. Yesterday, authorities took the initial steps in the land-titling process for more than 30 families at Boeung Kak. Hong Menea

Boeung Kak villagers closer to land titles

It's taken years of waiting – and protesting – but families in the capital’s Boeung Kak community yesterday saw City Hall officials measure land in their villages.

Representatives of the city were deployed yesterday to villages 24, 22 and 6 to demarcate land as a step towards awarding land titles to more families.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said a working group had begun measuring land in accordance with documents the authorities have compiled in recent years.

“After measuring this land – the size of their houses – the 32 families will receive legal land titles,” he said.

Boeung Kak representative Heng Mom, whose house was demolished in evictions, expressed her joy.

“My house has been measured,” she said. “I’m over the moon. Officials said that, at the longest, they will post temporary leaflets about house sizes in one or two weeks. We can say we will get land titles soon.”

In 2007, the government awarded a 99-year, $79 million contract to Shukaku – a company headed by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin – to develop more than 100 hectares of land at Boeung Kak.

The lake was filled in and thousands of families evicted, but the commercial project planned has yet to begin.

After the World Bank suspended lending to Cambodia and rights groups criticised the government for its approach to the people of Boeung Kak, Prime Minister Hun Sen returned 12.44 hectares to residents in August 2011.

Hundreds have since received land titles but about 70 families have continued to claim they were excluded from the titling process.

When Pa Socheatvong became municipal governor in May, he promised to resolve the Boeung Kak dispute. However, clashes between protesters and authorities on the streets continue.

But the land measuring was a step towards delivering long-awaited titles and ending land disputes, said Sia Pheaum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force.

“We do congratulate them for doing this. But we would still like City Hall to offer land titles to all people in the Boeung Kak community.”

Land measuring will continue today.

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