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'Happy' community rejects temporary govt housing

'Happy' community rejects temporary govt housing

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090403_05.jpg

Photo by:
SOVANN PHILONG 

The development that pushed the community out is seen through a fence.

RESIDENTS of Phnom Penh's Rik Reay ("Happy") community say they will not accept temporary relocation pending the construction of onsite housing by local developer Bassac Garden City.

The residents have agreed to accept a compensation package offered by the company in exchange for their land in Tonle Bassac commune, which it has plans to develop into housing.

"We do not agree with the idea to move us from our homes," said community representative Heng Samphors.

"We have agreed to the company's onsite housing policy but suggest we should live on the same land until the company finishes the construction and we can move into the new buildings."

The reaction came after Tonle Bassac commune Chief Khat Narith met with the community's 50 remaining families Thursday morning, informing them of the company's plan to relocate people temporarily to a nearby location.

"I told people we will find somewhere to build temporary homes because City Hall wants to upgrade the riverbanks where people are living," Khat Narith told the Post Thursday.

A government directive dated January 30 outlined two options for Rik Reay's residents: to accept housing in Dangkor district's Damnak Trayoeng village and $10,000 cash, or to take onsite housing, which the company pledged to build on a 16,200-square metre plot in the community.

"The remaining families agreed with the second option because it is the best idea -  people do not want to live far from the city," Heng Samphors said.

Rath Kumnith, a legal adviser for Canadia Bank, which is providing a loan to Bassac Garden City for the development, said the company would also keep open a third option: a $20,000 cash package in place of replacement housing - until the Khmer New Year holiday.

He added that about 200 families from Rik Reay had already accepted the offer.

"We have just agreed to onsite housing in principle," he said Thursday.

"We are not closing the door.... If people want $20,000 for moving out, they can come to meet Bassac Garden City representatives before the New Year."

Rath Kumnith did not specify when construction on on-site housing would begin but said company representatives would work with commune officials to assess how many people remain in the area.

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