The Preah Sihanouk provincial authority will continue with plans to bulldoze some 20 homes in Sihanoukville, after authorities failed to find a solution to an ongoing land dispute with villagers during a visit on Monday.
The homes, located in Village I, Commune I, have faced demolition since sub-decree 116 was issued in June 2016, as they are located in the Kbal Chhay protected area on the outskirts of the city.
Provincial authority spokesman Y Thearin said the authority visited the area on Monday morning, but did not reach a solution with the villagers and will continue to demarcate the land in accordance with the government sub-decree.
“We met with the villagers at the provincial hall. We are demarcating the land now, but it affects some villagers. We haven’t yet found a solution, they live illegally on protected land at Kbal Chhay,” he said.
Over 100 families have petitioned provincial governor Yun Min asking for a solution to the land issue. They claim the sub-decree instructed authorities to give part of the Kbal Chhay land to them, but authorities failed to do so.
Lim Veasna, the villager’s representative, said on Monday that the provincial authority’s actions are impacting the homes of more than 20 families who have been living there since 2014.
“The authority came without any letter, announcement or solution for the villagers. They just told us that they are following the sub-decree and will continue to bulldoze it.
“We are seeking a solution, but it is not effective because they have more power,” he said.
Provincial Environmental Department director Samut Sothearith said the provincial authority will continue to demarcate the land in accordance with the sub-decree.
“We continue to build the demarcation between the land of the villagers and Kbal Chhay [protected area], which is protected by a sub-decree. We need to build the demarcation so that it is clear what is villagers’ land and what is the state’s,” he said.
Cambodian National Research Organisation director Sok Sokhom supported the authority’s actions, claiming that they had already “cut off land for the villagers”.