Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong on Monday announced plans to develop the drug-riddled Trapaing Chhouk slum into a new housing compound in the near future, though a city spokesman yesterday cautioned that the plans were far from final.
Socheavtong first announced the plans on Monday afternoon while touring the notorious community, which officials claim has almost been completely cleared of drugs under the ongoing nationwide drug crackdown.
Socheatvong yesterday said that over the years, the area had became a disorganised warren, with drug users and distributors using the slum’s narrow alleys as a hideout.
“We want to turn the Trapaing Chhouk area into a new housing compound with order, security and comfort for the people, including a good environment and hygiene,” he said.
Officials will hold public forums and will launch a survey to receive feedback. Families would be given a land certificate to secure them a space in the new community, he added.
However, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said the project was just an idea at this point, and hasn’t been seriously studied yet. A committee to examine the development will be formed, he said, but it’s not known when.
“We cannot leave this area to be in chaos and be unorganised like this anymore,” he said.
There are 660 families living in the community, totalling about 3,000 residents.
Measpheakdey said that during the month of February, authorities had cracked down heavily on the drug-infested community, and that the area is now almost “100 percent” free of drugs. A total of 231 perpetrators were arrested, he said. Some 94 rental rooms, where drug users and distributors would gather, were dismantled. Six others will be torn down by the owners.
Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, confirmed the slum was almost free of drugs but said it would continue to be patrolled in order to continue “to fight drug users”.
Soeung Saran, acting executive director at urban housing rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said the proposed housing development was risky for the families. “We have seen examples from other developments,” he said, citing the long-running disputes that grew out of the development of Boeung Kak as an example.
“To avoid this from happening again, Phnom Penh authorities should have a clear consultation and compensation,” he said.
Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro