Fourteen families in Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district have lodged complaints about sand dredging and threatened to take matters into their own hands if they are not provided with $50,000 each in compensation from a company they accuse of damaging their livelihoods.
Kim Hak, chief of Tumnup Roloak commune’s Muoy village, said the company was licensed to dredge sand to be used in the development of Sinahoukville Autonomous Port’s newly constructed multipurpose terminal.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy late yesterday evening identified the company as ASKL Services and Construction, and confirmed the dredging was for the port project.
Hak said villagers are seeking compensation of $50,000 for each family if the company wants to continue to operate, otherwise, the dredging should be suspended so as not to interfere with local fisheries.
“They [said] they would use violence against the owner and burn or destroy [the machinery]” if no solution was reached, he said.
However, Ministry of Mines and Energy spokesman Dith Tina yesterday said the dredging had been temporarily halted and that the ministry had discussed a potential solution. “On February 9, our team went [to the site] with other relevant authorities . . . to meet with 14 families that were affected.”
Tina said officials had discussed a “win-win solution where sand-dredging and fishing activity can co-exist”, adding that they will “try to expedite the whole process”.
Contact information for the company could not be obtained as of press time.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY YESENIA AMARO