A ROAD and bridge construction project in Battambang and Pailin provinces begun last year and expected to finish in 2011 is to see the displacement of an unspecified number of residents, provincial and government officials said last week.
They added, however, that Ministry of Finance is preparing to assess which of the displaced will qualify for compensation.
The project will see a US$40 million upgrade of the 102-kilometre National Road 57 connecting Battambang and Pailin provinces, and the building of a 92-metre bridge on the outskirts of Battambang town.
Funding is to come from a $600 million development loan pledged by China in April 2006.
"One house will be affected in the ongoing construction of the bridge, but local and government authorities are still assessing how many houses will be affected along National Road 57," Khan Mane, director of the Battambang Public Works and Transport Department, told the Post on Thursday.
He added that residents of four communes and two districts in Battambang town would bear some impact from the construction project.
Refurbishing National Road 57 is to affect residents of Pailin as well, Sieng Sotthong, deputy provincial governor of Battambang province, told the Post on Thursday.
He said people in both provinces who live along the road "should understand the development and pull down fences whenever the government wants them to".
"The Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee of the Ministry of Finance is finalising a compensation policy to pay those affected by the project," he added.
Khan Mane said total compensation would likely not exceed $1 million, adding that "the government will try to negotiate with people to reduce the cost".
According to Cambodian law, residents affected by government construction projects are entitled to compensation.
Article 44 of the Constitution states that legal private ownership is protected by law and that "the right to confiscate properties from any person shall be exercised only in the public interest as provided for under the law and shall require fair and just compensation in advance".
Resettlement policy needed
Sim Samnang, deputy director of the Resettlement Department of the Ministry of Finance, said earlier this year that government officials were preparing a national mechanism to guide compensation for those who lose land or housing to state development projects.
A draft expropriatory law is set to go before the National Assembly later this year, he said.
"Cambodia's laws and policies do not adequately address resettlement issues," he said in January.
"There is a need for a national resettlement policy," he added.