Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Landlords keep evicted Village 15 renters homeless

Landlords keep evicted Village 15 renters homeless

Landlords keep evicted Village 15 renters homeless

Hundreds of families renting homes in Sangkat Tonle Bassac's Village 15 are faced

with homelessness because their landlords have taken new houses provided by developers

at a relocation site outside Phnom Penh, leaving them with no claim to the homes.

Meng Phally, 45, a former renter, said her landlord dismantled her house and moved

to the new site. Her family has been living in the open air for four days already.

"I know nearly two hundred renter families who are now homeless," Phally

said, "We asked the company and authorities if we could stay until everybody

in the village had gone."

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong said this is similar to the plight of

house renters in Sambok Chab when they were evicted over the last two months, and

that City Hall does not have any policy for assisting the renters of Village 15.

"It would be better if the renters and owners talked together and continued

their renting arrangement at the relocation site," Socheatevong told the Post

on August 10.

Since August 7, more than 344 of the 1,465 families living in the seven communities

of Village 15 have volunteered to move and have dismantled their houses. So far,

322 families have been moved to the relocation site at Damnak Trayeung village, Choam

Chao commune, Dangkao district. The government has given permission to the company

7NG to develop the 3.6 hectares of Sangkat Tonle Bassac land.

Socheatevong said 7NG had already built 355 houses, and was building more. The company

expects to move all Village 15 families by the end of the year.

"It was an agreement between the community leaders and the company. We did not

force them to leave," Socheatevong said, "Now we are building a garment

factory at the relocation site, which could create 500 jobs."

The company is excavating the sites of dismantled houses in some parts of Village

15 to prevent renters from building huts there.

Ek Sokny, 48, who has refused to move, said the new houses that the villagers were

provided with were good but they were far away, and if she decided to move it would

ruin her business, and her children would drop out of school.

"I could not accept the company policy," Sokny said. "If I move, my

children will lose their future."

She said the majority of villagers did not want to move, and the agreement was made

by community leaders who conspired with the company and authorities in exchange for

money.

Socheatevong said City Hall is planning to evict 146 families in Group 78, but he

said those families would receive a better deal than the ones at Sambok Chab because

they lived on a public street.

Group 78 villagers had demanded partial development that would provide them with

housing on the new site, or a fair market price for the land they had been living

on.

"We could not afford what they demanded," Socheatevong said, "But

we will try to negotiate with them until there are no alternatives left."

Chuon Chamrong, land rights program officer at the local humans rights group Adhoc,

was concerned that violence would occur when other residents refused to move. She

said Phnom Penh municipality had to take responsibility for providing places for

homeless people.

"The company should reach an agreement with all those people before relocating

them, in order to avoid violence," Chamrong said.

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