Following Tuesday’s demolition of six homes in Village 1, a community on the southern shore of the capital’s Boeung Trabek reservoir, Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong yesterday addressed residents, promising a solution to a largely sceptical audience.
Speaking yesterday afternoon, Socheatvong said he would consider the community’s requests and deploy authorities to properly document residents’ information, ostensibly to better manage their relocation and compensation.
“I will take the issue under further consideration related to the project. We will conduct a thorough study to prepare a plan that makes the least impact,” he said, referring to the city’s plan to restore the reservoir’s ability to buffer against rainy season flooding in Phnom Penh.
However, a resident who wished to be referred to only as Mala said she did not trust the governor’s words without a written and signed document to back them up.
“Today, I do not move out; I want a specific promise to know how they are going to solve the problem,” she said.
Soy Socheat, another impacted villager, told the Post yesterday that while he is not opposed to City Hall’s development plan, he wants proper compensation and a clearly stated policy from officials.
“Our land is legal land. We bought it with the recognition of the commune; we did not grab it or extend it by filling in the lake. I have lived here for over 10 years,” he said. Officials have previously maintained that residents of Boeung Trabek are building and living on public land illegally.
Van Sopha, the land reform coordinator for rights group CCHR, also expressed doubts about Socheatvong’s promise of a solution.
“The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall should find a peaceful resolution, with the agreement of all sides. The authority should hold a meeting joined by the affected people and civil society organisations to solve the problem,” he said, stressing that without a clearly presented solution from the authorities, protests were likely to continue.
The villagers along the shores of Boeung Trabek in Phsar Doeum Thkov commune have been slated for eviction since January of last year. Villagers have long resisted government buyouts claiming they are far below market price, and have questioned why action has not been taken against large multi-storey buildings similarly built on banned areas of the lake.