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Floating home owners urged to come ashore

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Boribor district authorities dismantle a Vietnamese fish farm in Kampong Chhnang province’s Chhnok Trou commune on June 23. FACEBOOK

Floating home owners urged to come ashore

The Boribor district authorities in Kampong Chhnang province have dismantled more than 100 fish farming cages that were floating in the portion of the river running through his district before relocating the owners to land for the rest of this year’s rainy season.

District governor Yim Sarin told The Post on July 19 that a number of people, mostly Vietnamese, had recently rebuilt their fish cages in secret, but the district authorities dismantled them again and made their owners sign a letter promising not to rebuild them, though the fish farmers have requested an extension until the end of the rainy season, claiming that their fish are still too small to harvest.

“There were 107 fishing cages in Boribor district that we [dismantled]. Some of the cages had fish and some didn’t. Those who say their fish are still too small can stay until they are able to harvest those fish but they’ve been told not to rebuild their cages or put any new fish into them,” he said.

Sarin said the district authorities are giving the fish owners time to finish this year’s rainy season harvest. But if they are still present there farming fish after that point then the authorities will drag all of their fish onto land and the government will deal with them – and all of the floating houses in the district need to move to out of the water now.

“We have dismantled all of the floating houses. The only things that remain are some small boats. All of the fishing cages will be temporarily moved to the land,” he said.

Provincial governor Sun Sovannarithcould not be reached for comment on July 19, but he previously said the relocation of houses from the river to the land had at the time been achieved 100 per cent for his four target districts of Cholkiri, Kampong Leng, Kampong Tralach and Rolea Ba’ier.

Another two targets – Kampong Chhnang town and Boribo district – achieved only 50 per cent of their goals, and out of these six targets there are 2,396 families, or equivalent to 10,087 people in total.

Tot Kim Sroy, provincial coordinator for the NGO Minorities Rights Organisation (MIRO), told The Post on July 20 that the river used to be full of floating houses but they had all been demolished.

“We have been planning to get them to settle on land since 2018, but they asked to postpone the move in order for their fish to grow big enough to harvest ... So I’ve asked the authorities to reconsider this issue because it has been since 2018 now and their fish are still not big,” he said.

He claimed that most of the floating houses belonging to Cambodians in the province had already moved to land, while Vietnamese people with large floating houses had floated them over to the Vietnamese border, but the Vietnamese authorities did not allow them to enter the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kim Sroy expressed his concerns that the floating houses will just return back to their former locations in the future if there are no drastic and long-term measures to effect changes on this issue. He said that the Vietnamese people had refused to dismantle their floating houses and were trying to escape by moving about in Cambodia’s rivers.

“If there is still corruption, these floating houses will continue to be present. On the other hand, the Vietnamese who were denied entry to their own country, where will they go? If the preventive measures are loose, they will just come back,” he said.

Boribor district deputy governor Phal Sopheap vowed that there would be no corruption regarding this issue and that this effort to rid the area of floating houses had been going on for years.

“We are doing it now. Our committee is doing it regularly and according to the plan. There is absolutely no corruption. For me, I have not yet received any information about graft, but if there is such practice, we will take action against any official who acts contrary to that principle,” he said.

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