Dozens of families are in danger of losing their homes after authorities informed them that the land along a disused former road that they have inhabited for over 20 years is slated for redevelopment.
Resident Chhang Heng said he has been living in Poipet’s Kbal Spean I village for over 10 years, but some villagers claim to have lived there since the 1990s and earlier.
“I bought the land from another villager, and most of them don’t have a receipt [as proof of sale]. The government measured the land systematically, but they did not measure for me; they said the land is reserved for the road,” Heng said.
Authorities claim the land was a road many years ago. When it fell into disrepair, villagers moved in. While Heng and the others haven’t been ordered to leave yet, the government may do so whenever it decides to rebuild the road.
Some 30 families have since filed a letter to the Poipet town administration to intervene and grant them land titles.
However, no such deal will be extended to the villagers, according to Prak Poly, head of the provincial land management committee.
“If it is the land for the road and we issue them a legal land title, it would be illegal,” he said.
Both the Poipet commune chief and town governor, meanwhile, said that they have no power over land management authorities.
“If the experts say that is the road, it is the road. Though you lived there since 1979, it is still the road, because it is part of the master plan,” said Commune Chief Phork Lorn.