OFFICIALS in Kampong Speu province’s Omlaing commune on Tuesday began measuring plots of land owned by families embroiled in a land dispute with the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, though some residents refused to allow the measurements, which they said would not include sections of land already cleared by the company.
Provincial authorities as well as TV commentator Soy Sopheap met on April 20 with about 500 villagers to decide on a procedure for recording measurements of the villagers’ farmland, which is located near a 9,000-hectare land concession awarded to the sugar company, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat. Residents of Omlaing commune, located in Thpong district, have expressed concern that the concession overlaps with their farmland.
When last week’s meeting concluded, officials promised to return the following day to begin taking measurements, but then failed to return until yesterday.
San Tho, a resident who says he stands to be affected by the concession, said some residents of the commune had prevented the measurements from going forward out of fear that they would lose some of their land.
“Some villagers did not allow the provincial committee to measure their land because the authorities would not measure land which the company cleared already,” he said.
In some cases, he added, families were worried they would lose up to 30 metres of farmland.
Chhean Kimsuon, a representative of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, on Tuesday decried attempts to block the measurement work.
“Some of the villagers are tricky. They set up a fence on the forest land that the company had cleared and said it belonged to them,” he said.
Hab Dam, the chief of Omlaing commune, said the measurement work would take about one month, and that that the villagers who agreed to participate on Tuesday had been given land titles, though this was denied by one village representative.