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Families want road expansion scaled back

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A view of the Prek Phnov bridge where municipal officials discussed the of impact of the bridge expansion yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Families want road expansion scaled back

About 40 families asked the government last week to review road expansion plans at Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov Bridge, saying the proposed dimensions would force them to lose property and even parts of their homes.

Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong met with the 42 families on Friday to discuss the plans, with the government pushing for the currently 6-metre-wide roads – which run along either side of the foot of the bridge – to be expanded to 30 metres to ease traffic.

Villagers, however, want the roads capped at 25 metres in order to preserve their property. “We will consider [their concerns],” Socheatvong said yesterday.

Chhouen Chantan, a village chief in Prek Pnov commune, said the government planned to widen about 500 metres of the roads, adding that 58 families would be affected.

Villager Phat Thol, 66, a resident since 2000, said that “the 5 metres are very important for my family, because my house would become too small . . . We live next to the road,” he said.

Meanwhile, Phon Phany, 73, a local since 1999, said his family already lost 25 metres when the bridge was first built. “We do not want to lose part of my house again,” he said.

Seng Sophat, 48, who has lived in her home since 2000, said the families did not reject the government’s proposal altogether but simply wanted less expansion. “Some of them live here without a land title. It is easy to lose some part of our land and houses,” she said.

Saran Soeung, of land rights NGO STT, said villagers were worried about not receiving compensation, adding that “it is important to think about the impact before expanding”. Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski

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