Now they are elected, but where is the promise? We are still living in temporary
shelters and now they come to evict us again.
The new Borei Keila apartment buildings.
About 120 families waiting for new apartments in the Borei Keila development are
accusing their district chiefs of duping them into voting for them but failing to
live up to their elections' promises.
The chiefs campaigned for their seats in the commune elections in April on a platform
of getting them a place to live, and now they've reneged, say the families.
Morn Kunthea, 33, a renter who settled in the area in 1991 said during the commune
election their district governor vowed to get them the much sought after apartments
if they won the election.
"Now they are elected, but where is the promise? We are still living in temporary
shelters and now they come to evict us again," said Kunthea.
Srun Srorn, 7 Makara District Governor, said he is working on it.
"It is not true. I never made any promise before the election," he said.
"What I am doing now is try to make it fair to everyone according to the initial
agreement. It is not related to the election."
Borei Keila was touted as a model project dating back to 2003 under which people
who had lived in the area "permanently" would be eligible for apartments
in 10 buildings constructed by a private developer. The first two buildings were
occupied. A third building is up and the other buildings are under construction.
Srorn blamed the families for causing difficulties in the construction process. He
said the construction of the remaining seven buildings was planned for completion
in 18 months but he said the people slowed down the process when they refused to
leave the construction site. He accused some families of playing tricks to get more
apartments and making the evaluating procedure more complicated.
"The buildings are not for those who split their families or for those who rented
for just a few months or a few days and then claimed that they were here a long time
ago. The area is developed for those who are really poor, not people who cheat like
Srorn said officials are evaluating the documents to prioritize the legitimate families,
owners first, then the renters. He couldn't confirm whether all 120 families would
get the apartments nor could he estimate when the problem will be solved.
Noun Sarath, a representative of the 120 families, said he wants to know why eligible
families cannot move into 131 rooms available in the third building.
Instead, people are being constantly moved within the construction area.
"The district governor said he moved us again and again because he needed to
use the land to construct the buildings. It's been eight months."
The families had to move their temporary shelters again from one spot in the rubble
to another spot, and they may have to move again.
Mann Choeun and Pa Socheat Vong, Deputy Governors of Phnom Penh in charge of urban
planning refused to comment.
Chheng Sophors, an investigator from Licadho, told the Post that there is a lack
of transparency in division of the apartments. He said many families deemed legitimate
for the apartments are still waiting. He said the process is "abnormal"
but he declined to comment on the possible reasons. He said Licadho is concerned
about the financial and sanitary conditions of the families when they have to go
through repetitive evictions.
"Each eviction always caused the same problems. There are no toilets and they
need to keep living with rubbish. It affects the most the health of the children
and their schooling."
Sophors said repeated evictions create more serious poverty because each time people
must rebuild their temporary shelters it costs money. "It makes them poorer
Srorn said the authority is trying to solve the sanitation problem. He called for
trust in City Hall.