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Evictees fear homelessness

Evictees fear homelessness

URBAN evictees from the city’s Sambok Chab community say they may be homeless again after local officials ordered them to pull down metal-roofed shacks at a relocation site in order to make way for purpose-built brick homes.

Yang Sorphorn, 55, was among the more than 1,000 families forcibly evicted from Sambok Chab in June 2006 and relocated to Andoung village in Dangkor district. She said yesterday that commune authorities visited the site last week and ordered more than 400 families to pull down their homes and shelters.

Authorities announced that
new 4-by-5-metre brick homes would be built on the site and then sold to villagers for 4.2 million riels (US$1,000) each, she said.

“We certainly do not have enough money to pay them, and we will be homeless again,” she said, although no deadline for the removal has yet been given.

Soy Kao, 42, another resident evicted from Sombok Chab, said that the Korean Church Relief Team had volunteered to build corrugated iron-roofed metal roof homes for the people in her community, but were prevented by local commune officials.

“We are very happy that this organisation volunteered to make metal-roofed homes, because we lived under shelters with ruined tent roofs,” she said.

“But our hope disappeared when commune authorities banned their good will, and we are still living under a ruined shelter with our small children.”

Hang Abraham Simting, director of Development for the People of Cambodia, said his NGO had helped build 120 shacks and infrastructure such as a sanitation system for the families.

“We planned to make 20 more metal-roofed homes for the poor families, but [authorities] ordered them to pull down their homes and pay $1,000 for a new brick home that is made by their group,” he said.

Kok Roka commune chief Py Nop said yesterday that the shacks were poorly built and stood on state land.

“This land is not the property of their organisation, so they have no right to make homes on this land for those families,” he said. “We are just the local authority, and we are just implementing regulations from the Phnom Penh authorities.”

He said: “They can pay $1,000 for a new home, but in installments over five years.”

Resident Am Sophan, 42, said his family had accepted the proposal, but that he was concerned at the cost of water and electricity. “We can pay 96,000 riels a month [for the home], but we pay 4,000 riels for a cubic metre of water and 3,000 riels for a kilowatt of electricity,” he said.

Fellow resident Im Sokhom, 42, said she had also accepted the city’s proposal, but was still waiting for a new home to be built for her.

“I have waited nearly four months to live in the new house, but the authorities cancelled my name from the list because we are poor,” she said. “It is an injustice to me and some other families.”

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