The Kampot Provincial Administration has issued a letter instructing the So Nguon Group to suspend its clearing activities on disputed land in Dom Phdao village of Chhouk district’s Trapaing Phlaing commune.

The dispute over the lands is between the company and former soldiers at the Coastal Island Defense Command.

Provincial governor Cheav Tay said that a representative of the Coastal Island Defense Command had sought an intervention from him on March 15 to stop the company from bulldozing the land and demarcating a boundary before a peaceful solution is reached.

According to the representative, on March 14 two pieces of heavy machinery and some 100 staffers from the company excavated the land to build a boundary on 238 ha of it in the village where the former soldiers claim ownership.

“To prevent the dispute from escalating and negatively affecting either side, I decided to issue a letter urgently informing Oknha So Nguon to temporarily halt his activities on the land in order to wait for an acceptable solution from provincial authorities,” Tay said.

Soth Saroeun, Deputy Commander of the Coastal Island Defense Command, said the company’s action ran contrary to the decision reached at a March 4 meeting of the provincial joint committee that suggested a halt to any land clearing on 238 ha of land after they found that some locations overlapped.

“The actions of the company that cleared the disputed land had affected the rights of the soldiers who integrated into the area,” Saroeun said, adding that each soldier’s family was granted five ha of land from the government.

“To serve the interests of the soldiers, we ask that the company stop its actions right away and wait for a peaceful deal from the provincial authorities first,” he said.

So Nguon, director of So Nguon Group, denied the allegation, saying that the company did not bulldoze the disputed area, rather it had excavated some land to demarcate the borders that the joint committee had established for the company through the posting of border poles.

“In general, our company follows the meeting results from the authorities and the committee. And now we have agreed to suspend our activities at the request of the provincial authority,” he said.

Nguon called on the relevant authorities to expedite a solution as soon as possible so that the company could complete its development plan on schedule.

According to Nguon, the company has plans to grow yellow bananas on some 200 ha of the land and between 600 and 800 workers will be employed there for 2021.