About 200 former residents of Phnom Penh’s Dey Krahorm community will return to the site for a ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of their violent eviction by police and construction workers employed by developer 7NG.
Chan Vichet, a Dey Krahorm representative, said the gathering would remind people about the 2009 eviction and also allow villagers to convey the hardships they have suffered since their relocation.
On the morning of January 24, 2009, Dey Krahorm was bulldozed by police and construction workers hired by 7NG. Its residents were relocated to Damnak Trayeung, a site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh that lacked basic services and infrastructure such as shelter, sewage systems and fresh water.
Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that while service provision had improved at the Damnak Trayeung relocation site, a recent study found 70 percent of residents had moved back to the city so they could work and earn money.
“Income generation is a problem for people in Damnak Trayeung,” Sia Phearum said. “It is hard for them with their future, many own small businesses and have to rent rooms in the city.”
He said the quality of services was also lower than that in the city, with some children abandoning their studies because of the poor quality of the schools in the area.
According to a billboard posted outside the 3.6-hectare Dey Krahorm site in June, 7NG said it had plans to build luxury apartments, as well as offices and retail space on the site.
To date, however, the site has not been significantly developed by 7NG: It holds a company building, soccer ground, some multi-purpose sporting facilities and a restaurant.
7NG’s Executive Director Srey Chanthou has said development of the site was set to begin in 2011 and 2012, but no definite start date has even been given.
“We don’t have a plan for what we will do with the rest of the land after we finish building the fitness centre. We don’t know what we will do in the future,” he said in June.
Vuthy Tung, supervisor of the 7NG sports areas, said the football fields were rented out for US$70 per match.
Khun Pov, 36, a former Dey Krahorm resident, now living in Damnak Trayeung village, said he was disappointed 7NG had not heeded residents’ request for proper compensation, and that there had since been so little development at the site.
“I feel pain when I’m reminded that 7NG forced us to leave and used machines to knock down our homes under the tears and protests of residents and under the watch of rights groups,” Khun Pov said.
7NG chairman Srey Sothea could not be reached for comment yesterday.