PREAH Sihanouk provincial authorities have moved closer to resolving a standoff with 70 business owners and vendors slated for eviction from a 1.5-kilometre stretch of Sihanoukville’s Otres beach by increasing the size of a financial “gift” offered to those who choose to leave peacefully.
Sok Phorn, deputy provincial cabinet chief, said yesterday that authorities had offered lump-sum payments of US$4,000 for business owners and
$1,500 for landless vendors if they were to leave, a $500 increase on an offer made earlier this week.
Officials say the owners are not entitled to compensation because the land they occupy is state land.
Sok Phorn also said yesterday that he had rejected a request to extend the eviction deadline from Sunday until the end of the rainy season.
“This season is the low season, so there aren’t many tourists visiting the beach. That’s why the business owners can move their homes to another place,” he said.
“When their homes are built, they will be ready to make new living at the start of the new tourist season,” he added.
Business owners and landless vendors originally demanded $5,000 and $2,500 respectively to leave the beach.
Sor Kem, owner of the Sunshine Cafe, which lies inside the affected area, said that the new offer was insufficient, but that many would accept it because they had no other choice.
“Many people will just move to town because there is no option,” he said.
“Many of the Khmer families here have no money to invest in new land.”