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City mum on displacement

City mum on displacement

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Several hundred families, whose homes and lives will be affected by the project, are requesting compensation from the municipal authorities. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

A Phnom Penh municipal government plan to build a 2.5 kilometre public space that would displace hundreds of villagers was greeted with requests for compensation by residents yesterday, while city officials refused to comment.

On Monday, the municipality posted on its website that a May 21 city meeting had reviewed plans for the public space, which has been in the works since 2010.

The space will occupy the western shores of the Tonle Sap river, stretching north from the Chroy Changvar bridge and involving portions of Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune and Russey Keo district’s Toul Sangke commune.

“The project will consist of a tourist information center, an entertainment centre, places to sit and enjoy river views and places for Khmer boats and food shops,” the city’s release says.

In August 2010, municipal governor Kep Chuktema inaugurated the construction site, telling villagers that they would have to move to make way for the project.

However, little information has been disseminated since.

Russey Keo commune chief Chan Smnang told the Post yesterday that the project would affect more than 200 families in her area.

One of those affected villagers, Mey Khiev, said she would not move without compensation, as she had lived on the land for three decades.

“We don’t oppose the development project, but we just want decent compensation,” she said. Fellow villager Kim Sreang agreed, saying that she would only move if authorities carried out the process with “transparency” and “justice”.

“We fear that the authorities will evict us poor,” she said.

Several officials within the city’s Department of Public Works and Transport declined to comment yesterday, referring all questions to the department’s director, Sain Pisith, who said he was too busy to talk to reporters. Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema hung up on a reporter.

Kiet Chhe, deputy chief of city administration, confirmed that a committee had been formed to assess the project’s impact, but declined to comment further.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]

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