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Fire victims reject relocation

Fire victims reject relocation

Though most families plan to move, at least 62 intend to stay in Boeung Kak 2.

AT LEAST 62 families who lost their homes during the Boeung Kak 2 commune fire in Tuol Kork district last month have rejected an offer to relocate to land on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in Dangkor district, local authorities said Wednesday.

District officials have said that an electrical fire in a resident’s home sparked the March 8 blaze, which destroyed 178 homes as well as 31 dormitory rooms in Neak Von pagoda, leaving 257 families, 181 students and 90 monks homeless.

Thim Sam An, deputy governor of Tuol Kork district, said Monday that residents would not be forcibly evicted, but that officials would encourage them to rethink their position.

“We will still give the villagers time so they can make a decision about relocation, but we won’t force them,” Thim Sam An said.

“We will make a final list of the villagers who still want to live at the fire site,” he said, adding that families choosing to stay would be offered a 3.92-by-5.5-metre plot of land before the rainy season.

Some 140 families have already accepted the offer to relocate to Dangkor district, where drainage, water and roads are already in place, Thim Sam An said.

He said he was unaware of any development plans for the Boeung Kak 2 commune site, and that villagers were welcome to continue living there.

However, at least one resident, a 74-year-old woman, said she had been prevented from rebuilding for the time being. The woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that despite the delay, she had decided to remain at the site, though she noted that her new plot will be considerably smaller than the 8-by-25-metre house that she lost.

“I have agreed to take the new offer from the authorities because my family members work in Phnom Penh,” she said.

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