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Payouts disputed in Rik Reay

Payouts disputed in Rik Reay

090609_03.jpg
090609_03.jpg

Villagers ask government to resolve disagreement over number of families

to be compensated, with commune chief saying data will be available today

Photo by: CHRISTOPHER SHAY

A man reads the newspaper in Rik Reay community in Phnom Penh on Monday.

MEMBERS of the Rik Reay community of Phnom Penh who are being evicted to make way for a new development accused Bassac Garden City, the local developer, of undercounting the number of households to save on compensation payments.

"The company has created bad statistics about the number of families [in Rik Reay] because it wants to pay less money," said resident Pheng Polin, 28.

On Monday, 16 community members went to the Bassac commune chief's office and demanded that the government release official data about the village to settle the disagreement, according to community representative Pen Thai.

The community and the developer disagree about how many additional families in the community should receive compensation. The community representative said there are 54 families, but the company claims there are only 49, a difference that could cost the community tens of thousands of dollars.

During a May 20 meeting with residents, commune chief Khan Narith vowed to provide definitive numbers but has yet to follow through, Pen Thai said.

On Monday, Khan Narith said the information would be available to the community today, but he did not reveal how many households the developer would need to compensate.

Developer Bassac Garden City denied any wrongdoing and blamed the disagreement on outsiders inflating the number of households to cheat the company.

"How can the number of households be increasing? This isn't benefiting the poor. It's the rich people in the area who have created more households to steal from the company," said Touch Samnang, a company representative.

Bunn Rachana, a monitor for the Housing Rights Taskforce, said the conflict would not be solved until a joint task force was created to count the houses together.

"The government should re-check the counts along with the community; otherwise there will no way to work out the disagreement," she said.

Resident Pheng Polin said that when the authorities counted houses they missed a few, because some people were not around to ensure that their homes were included.

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