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Fire families wait for relocation, new land

Fire families wait for relocation, new land

TUOL Kork district officials on Monday told a group of 170 families made homeless by a March 8 fire in Boeung Kak 2 commune that they could be relocated to an undeveloped site in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune at the end of the month.

Also Monday, 68 other families that have continued to resist relocation protested in front of City Hall, calling on local officials to grant them land to build new homes at the site of the fire.

At a meeting with the first group of families, held at Neak Von pagoda, Tuol Kork deputy governor Thim Sam An said infrastructure at the Choam Chao district relocation site would not be fully in place before families arrive.

“We cannot connect the electricity and water line, including the drainage system, by the end of this month. We will have to do these things step-by-step after the relocation,” he said. “But if you agree to go, we will relocate you this month.”

Boeung Kak 2 residents and housing rights advocates have criticised the Choam Chao site for its propensity to flood, but Thim Sam An said that the authorities were “making an effort” to fill in flood-prone areas.

Some residents said Monday that they were willing to wait up to two months to be relocated, provided that officials gave them tarpaulins so they could build roofs over temporary shelters in Boeung Kak 2.

“Right now, our roofs are ruined, and we have no money to buy new tarpaulins,” said Sam Sam Ang, a representative of the families. “We ask that the authorities distribute some tarpaulins to us … while we wait for relocation.”

Meanwhile, 68 families that have continued to resist pressure from the authorities to relocate demonstrated in front of City Hall on Monday morning, demanding that local authorities begin allocating plots of land promised to them at the fire site.

Kong Saly, a resident who participated in the protest, said that villagers want officials to distribute 3.92-by-5.5-metre plots of land to each family.

“For three months we’ve waited for the authorities to distribute plots of land to us, but now it’s the rainy season, and our roofs are ruined,” she said.

In the fire’s immediate aftermath, officials told residents they could rebuild in the commune provided that they accepted 3.92-by-5.5-metre plots – a downgrade for many of the families – and left sufficient space for new access roads.

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