Nearly 300 families in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Trabek area will be granted land titles, a surprise move punctuated with a reminder to residents to cast a vote for the ruling party in July’s elections.
The area in Chamkarmon district has been the site of land disputes for several years. Deputy Municipal Governor Suy Serith said on Wednesday morning that 271 families would receive “systematic land titling” following land measurement beginning next week. The city has said it will try to restore the area as a reservoir to prevent flooding.
“Officials will go down next week to demarcate the borders of your land and ask you for thumbprints,” he said.
The families live in Village 1 of Tuol Tompoung commune, Village 8 of Boeung Trabek commune, and villages 1, 2, and 3 of Phsar Doeum Thkov commune.
The announcement comes three months before the national elections – something Serith was quick to remind attendants of at a meeting yesterday.
“This is a very big gift from Prime Minister Hun Sen to people at Boeung Trabek reservoir. So you must be grateful to the prime minister during the 29 July event,” he said, referring to the upcoming national elections.
Sarin Vanna, director of the Phnom Penh Land Management Department, said 96 families on about eight hectares of land in north Boeung Trabek would be registered, along with 175 families on 6.6 hectares in south Boeung Trabek. He also praised the current government for its generosity.
“This is due to efforts of [Land Management Minister] Chea Sophara, who requested the government to grant this area to people,” he said.
“So this is an exclusive grant from Prime Minister Hun Sen without calculating in square metres or charging money . . . As you know, you had no hope in the past you would get land titles.”
Sitting next to the reservoir near her home in Boeung Trabek, 60-year-old Nay Tha, who had lived on the land since 1979, said she was “very happy” and felt “comfortable” about the announcement.
Having heard Serith’s appeal during the meeting, she said she would cast her vote for the CPP. “Before that I did not think about voting, because I worried about the land . . . but now I know who to vote for,” she said, explaining she could put her mind at ease knowing her four children and seven grandchildren could have a place to live. “When the government helps me like this, I clearly come to the CPP, not to others.”
She said the residents now had 15 days to submit documents to City Hall if they want to contest their allotment. Some residents in the area weren’t as fortunate as Tha, however.
A few metres down the road, away from the polluted reservoir where rubbish covers nearly every inch of the surface, Choeum Hieng sells grilled fish on the side of the road.
Hieng is one of hundreds of families living on or next to the water who have little hope for titles. Having lived there since 1990, he said he was unhappy with the compensation the government offered for his land – a smaller plot elsewhere. “The compensation they promise to give to me, I’m unhappy about it,” he said, adding that authorities also had failed to tell him where his new house would be.
Other residents interviewed by The Post also expressed concerns about not receiving sufficient compensation for homes they owned.
The dissatisfaction was echoed by Soy Davin, 34, who lives in the same area with her six children but rents her home for about $20 a month. She had heard of development plans in the area, and that her home might be bulldozed, but did not know details. “If it’s like that, I have to move to another apartment in the city. I won’t be able to afford it, but there’s no choice,” she said.
Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda