Families in Banteay Meanchey province’s Sisophon district are collecting thumbprints for a complaint they plan to file to authorities protesting a road-widening project funded by the Asian Development Bank that they say will damage their homes.
The road expansion project is set to take place on National Road 56A in Kampong Svay commune’s Kampong Svay village, Kep Soeun, a representative of the 20 families involved in the dispute, said yesterday.
National Road 56A is the main road linking Banteay Meanchey to Oddar Meanchey province.
The roofs of some houses that jut out onto the proposed road would have to be cut off to make way for the expanded road, Kep Soeun said. Otherwise families would have to move their homes two metres back from their current location, he added.
Kampong Svay village deputy chief Thang Sath said that the protesting villagers have no right to the disputed land. Despite this, he said that local authorities and ADB officials are offering the villagers compensation. “In order to avoid a dispute, we want to cooperate with the villagers by compensating them,” he said.
Sisophon district governor Um Reatrey threatened yesterday to pursue legal action if the protests continued.
“There is no policy to give them compensation, but we want them to benefit from the project. If they still do not agree then we will take legal action against all the difficult people,” he said.
ADB’s external relations coordinator in Phnom Penh, Ros Sothea, confirmed that the road expansion was a joint effort between the ADB and South Korea.Ros Sothea said, however, that she had not yet heard about the dispute.