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Partial settlement in river eviction

Partial settlement in river eviction

A GROUP of 17 families who were facing eviction in the capital’s Meanchey district have agreed to a compensation package from local officials, but five are holding out for a better deal, authorities said Monday.

The families have agreed to a payment of US$1,000 in order to move their homes along the Tonle Bassac river in Chakangre Leu commune’s Prek Tanuo village. The villagers have been asked to move 100 metres further down the river to allow reinforcement work on the riverbank, according to commune chief Koe Savoeun.

“Most families volunteered to relocate, except five families, but we hope that they will volunteer soon,” Koe Savoeun said. “They live in an insecure slum because they live on the edge of the river.”

A representative of the five families who have not accepted a compensation deal said the families had been pressured to accept against their will.
Mok Ratha said the families want to leave the riverbank area entirely, and have questioned how much safer they would actually be after a 100-metre shift along the same riverbank.

“We want to relocate to a safer area, but we cannot move with only $1,000,” said Mok Ratha, who is demanding between $2,000 and $3,000 per family for the move.

“We do not want to stay in the same riverbank area, which is insecure.”

In early March, commune officials originally offered $600 to the families to move their narrow, tightly packed homes to make way for a terrace meant to protect the riverbank from collapsing.

By mid-March, authorities had destroyed vines and vegetable gardens owned by the villagers and pulled down some of their homes, forcing most of the families to agree to a $1,000 offer, Mok Ratha said.

He said commune officials hoped to profit from the vacant land – an allegation Koe Savoeun rejected.

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