More than 100 families blocked a busy road in the south of Phnom Penh on March 19 to protest what they described as a final attempt to resolve a dispute with a property developer.
Many people who purchased homes in the Borey VIP development in the capital’s Dangkor district blocked three roads outside the borey developers offices in Spean Thma commune’s Meuntra village. The protest began at 8:30am, and despite requests from the authorities, the roads remained blocked until 2:20pm.
Nhel Boti, a representative of the residents of the project I flats, told The Post that he had completed the installments on his home, but was yet to receive the deed titles.
He had become very concerned when he heard that a creditor had filed a lawsuit to seize some properties, as the owner of the borey had apparently used several title deeds as collateral for loans.
“We are very worried. He has not given us our deed titles, and we have heard that they may be seized by the courts to repay one of his creditors,” he said.
Speaking to reporters during the roadblock, Kim Heang, 45, another borey buyer, said that the families had blocked the roads because they were at their wits’ end as to what to do.
Like Boti, he had heard that the titles – many of which he said had been paid for by the borey dwellers – had been used as security for more loans by the developer. He was terrified that the courts would award the title deeds to homes that people had paid for to a nameless creditor.
“This is not the first time that we have protested, but no agreeable solution has been reached. We want to get the attention of the Kingdom’s leadership, so they would step in and help us to find an equitable solution,” he said.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration expressed its regret that so many citizens had opted to take part in illegal activities in order to resolve what should be a civil dispute.
“Blockading a public road affects public order, and restricts people’s freedom of movement. It is likely that this kind of action will eliminate any sympathy people may have for their situation and replace it with resentment. We urge that people refrain from these kinds of activities in the future,” it said on a March 19 statement.
The administration warned that it would consider pursuing legal action should the stunt be repeated. It added that action may still follow the roadblock, should it receive complaints from the public.
It also pointed out that it had attempted to resolve the land dispute in the past.
“This dispute is based on a contract between two parties, the buyers and seller. As such, it is a civil case, and could be resolved by the judiciary. Unfortunately, it is complicated by a third party, the developers’ creditors,” it said.
The administration attempted to facilitate mediation through non-judicial mechanisms several times, first on November 5, and then on February 22. It issued a press release following the most recent meeting.
“Although all stakeholders have voluntarily given the right to the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration to mediate the dispute, not all parties have provided the necessary documents to us,” it said.
It called for patience, requested further meetings and for an end to the illegal road blockades.