Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Order signals likely end to airport land dispute

Order signals likely end to airport land dispute

Two men ride past a map of the proposed extension of Phnom Penh International Airport earlier this week.
Two men ride past a map of the proposed extension of Phnom Penh International Airport earlier this week. Heng Chivoan

Order signals likely end to airport land dispute

The Council of Ministers on Tuesday directed the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) to submit a confirmation that the city’s airport will not be expanded so that officials can begin issuing land titles to surrounding communities, seemingly signalling an end a long-running land dispute.

The notification requests that the SSCA provide the Ministry of Land Management a final outline of the airport’s boundary, highlighting the five so-called “SOS” communities surrounding it, and guidelines for construction restrictions, given the villages’ proximity to the runway. Additionally, the notice asks villagers to register their land with local authorities and pay the relevant taxes before getting land titles.

“The government has decided not to develop the airport, so the people can live there,” said Yim Nola, head of an inter-ministerial group formed to find solutions to land disputes.

Nola said it was equally important to inform people of the restrictions they can face if they wanted to construct new homes in the communities, which is why the SSCA would release these guidelines soon.

Villagers living in five communities – Trapaing Lavea, Thmor Kol, Kork Chambang, Tanguon and Chrey Chisak – have been engaged in a dispute with local authorities after plans to expand the airport raised fears of of potential evictions. Apart from regular protests and petitions, many villagers had painted a large “SOS” on their roofs ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the capital in 2012.

The expansion plans were eventually scrapped, but community members feared their land tenure remained insecure.

SSCA spokesman Sinn Sereyvutha said now that the government was sure it wouldn’t expand the airport, the boundary of the site would remain unchanged. Additionally, while the agency had to deal with overzealous villagers constructing long television antennas in the past, construction guidelines will prevent any such incidents.

“Once we submit our report, it will be up to the Ministry of Land Management and Construction to start the process of issuing land titles. But that is according to their procedures,” he added.

News of the notification was welcomed by the five communities, with Chray Nim, a Thmor Kol representative, saying it was a victory after years of attempting to ensure an end to the eviction speculation. “The government has understood and solved our concerns, so there is nothing happier than getting land titles for us,” she said.

Land Ministry officials could not be reached yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Gov’t not using EU aid for poor

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday refuted as “baseless”, claims that the government had used financial aid from the EU to implement the programme to identify and support poor and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic. The prime minister was responding to Roth Sothy, a

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • ‘Single Portal’ integrated registration system welcomes nearly 50 firms

    Forty-seven companies have successfully registered via a newly-launched information technology e-business registration platform as of the end of the second week of this month, Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Phan Phalla said. Six ministries and state-run institutions have been integrated into a

  • Battambang artist brings giant animals to life

    The giant reptile’s gaping mouth appears ready to consume its latest victim. It stands taller than a person and is incredibly life-like with authentic colours, a long spiky tail and detailed scales adorning its entire body. If it wasn’t 13m long, you may