Some 115 Vietnamese and Khmer-Muslim families residing on floating houses on the Tonle Sap River in Kampong Chhnang provinces said they were set to relocate to higher grounds after provincial authorities ordered them to move by year’s end.
Provincial deputy governor Sun Sovannarith said more than 2,000 families currently live on small boats that also double as their home. The relocation order, he said, is meant to restore the river’s water quality.
“They relocated by themselves. They are willing to move. We just helped to ensure their safety. We organised a task force to generate electricity and provide clean water for them. We’re prepared to protect them. We have a team to help them out when they lack something,” he said.
Sovannarith declined to provide an exact figure for the two ethnic groups. “We cannot say how many among the 115 families who moved are Vietnamese or Khmer-Muslim,” he said.
He said the families are required to relocate at least 1km from their previous location, and that they will be moved from Baribour, Cholkiri and Kampong Tralach districts and Kampong Chhnang town.
“This is a temporary measure. We have a plan to assist them for three months. We help generate electricity and provide clean water for them. It will be easy for them to relocate to a new place,” he said.
The deputy governor said those who reside on floating houses in the area of Chhong Kos in Kampong Chhnang town; Chhlok Truo commune in Baribour district; Koh Tkov and Peam Chhork communes in Cholkiri district; Seb and Ta Ches communes in Kampong Tralach and Kampong Leang districts must be relocated to Rolea P’ier district’s Svay Chhrum commune.
He said out of a total of more than 2,000 families living on the river in the province, 85 per cent are Vietnamese and 15 per cent were Khmer-Muslim, all of whom will be moved by the end of next year.
The provincial authority has allocated 40ha in Rolea P’ier district’s Svay Chhrum commune for the floating families.