More than 100 families whose land is part of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway project have appealed to the government to speed up compensation.
The families gathered in Phnom Penh’s Kambol commune in Kambol district on Sunday to call for a swift resolution to the issue.
A 37-year-old woman told The Post on Monday that she had to repay a bank in instalments over more than two years for a loan to acquire the land.
She said she had bought land, which cost between $4,000 and $20,000 according to the type, from a private company in the area.
Authorities had measured land in the area early this year and said it was part of the expressway project, where houses or businesses could not be built. The government said it will compensate those affected.
The land had been recognised by the authorities, with some families taking bank loans to buy plots. Others had paid a private company in monthly instalments for the land and constructed houses.
“The important thing now is that the government has yet to compensate us, and we don’t know when it will do so. When [the authorities] measured the land, they said it would perhaps take three months for us to be compensated. But it has been nearly a year.
“What we are worried about is that land prices keep going up. We don’t know when they will compensate us according to market price so that we can take the money to buy land in other places. The land belongs to us, but we cannot do anything with it,” she said.
Another landowner Tith Rano, who continues to rent a house because he cannot build on his land, said their demands did not mean they objected to the development project.
Rather, the affected landowners needed the government to compensate them quickly so that they can solve their financial woes, especially the bank loans.
“We don’t deny the right of the government. But the government should see whether residents are satisfied with this development or not. We have concerns over the issue and request that it is resolved,” Rano said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Monday that the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall was not involved with the project. He referred questions to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport or the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
However, he said that generally, for development projects, the authorities had a committee to address the impact on residents. So, residents who had problems should meet the committee directly.
Ministry of Public Works and Transportation secretary of state Lim Sidenin, who is in charge of the development of an expressway, declined to comment on Monday, saying that he was busy at a meeting.
Finance Ministry spokesman Meas Soksesan told The Post on Monday that in principle, the government didn’t ignore residents’ problems and had always addressed the impact on them.
He said the government had paid attention to it, but that the problem needs the proper collaboration of all parties.
“In principle, we address the impact of a project and solve it at its root. We have to measure and inspect the land and gain the collaboration of the local and provincial authorities. In addition, we must also have the residents’ consent,” he said.
However, he could not elaborate on the call by the 100 families.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday said that seven per cent of the Phnom Penh-Preah Sihanouk province expressway development project was underway at a cost of a total of $200 million.
The China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) through Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd had invested in the project.
The prime minister said the 190km project will span across 8.3km of the capital; Kandal province (9.10km); Kampong Speu (80.8km); Koh Kong (1.92km); and Preah Sihanouk (89.9km).