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Dispute over ‘communal’ land in Phnom Penh

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Residents protest at a gated community in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district. A dispute emerged when parking spaces were sold. Photo supplied

Dispute over ‘communal’ land in Phnom Penh

Over 600 residents living at 7NG Group’s gated community in Chaom Chao II commune, in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district have protested the sale of a park in the area which has historically been used as a communal space.

Their representative Nop Pheaktra told The Post on Monday that the park, which measures 19m by 76m, has been used for car parking, ceremonies, parties and wedding receptions. She said residents hold a proper contract with 7NG to back their claim.

Recently, Pheaktra said, 12 people built a fence around the park and banned residents from using it, claiming they had legally bought the land from 7NG.

“We signed a contract with the gated community owner to keep the space for parking. If there are people who want to celebrate ceremonies or wedding receptions, they can do so on the land.

“We agreed to keep the park, but the owner then sold it to other people. We demand to keep the land to serve our mutual benefits,” he said.

One of the protesters who asked to remain anonymous said 7NG secretly sold parking spots to 12 people who also live in the community. He said some of the spots were sold to Kim Yan, the chief of the gated community, and people connected to Yan.

He said protesting residents are not happy about the sale because the land was meant for communal use.

“Authorities and the gated community owner have to find justice for all residents. We do not protest just for individual interests but for all people. If we lose this land, there is no space to park or organise events,” he said.

Chaom Chao II commune chief Va Sarong said on Monday that he is mediating the case. People are demanding that Srey Chanthorn, the owner of 7NG, keep the land designated for use by residents in the community.

Sarong said one of the people who bought a parking space said they want the land to develop their own business after buying it from the owner. They have since built a fence to bar people from entering the area.

“I’ve reported this case to my superior to find a compromise in a timely manner. People who bought the parking spaces do not care about it because their aim is to take the land for personal business.

“They even insist that citizens file a complaint to the court if they do not agree. As authorities, we will try to resolve this case,” he said.

Por Sen Chey district governor Hem Darith said on Monday that the road that people blocked in protest is now opened. He suggested they file a complaint to the court for a solution.

“It does not matter if this is right or wrong, but why block the road? Blocking the road is wrong. I do not know more about the case because I am busy with our superiors in flooded areas,” he said.

Chanthorn, the 7NG general director, said he was not informed about the case. He said the company sold the gated community to customers already, so they can manage the land. The firm does not have any responsibility regarding the matter, he added.

“The gated community is not related to my company anymore because I gave it to residents to manage. I used to manage it, but I gave it to others to manage. People still call it 7NG, but the fact is that it no longer belongs to 7NG,” he said.

The Post could not contact Kim Yan, the chief of the Borei community, for comment on Monday.

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