Some 320 families who are living near disused railway tracks in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district have agreed to relocate to a new site along O’Veng canal in Kilometre 6 commune.
Russey Keo district governor Chea Pisey wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday that the authorities plan to renovate the area along O’Veng canal – which is near Tuol Santevoan pagoda – and build a 4km-long road, which will be used for commuting.
The road will begin from Grand Phnom Penh International City in Svay Pak commune and terminate at the Sorya Bus Garage in Russey Keo commune. It will be built over the disused rails the families live near.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Thursday that no one protested or seemed to express dissatisfaction with the move. On the contrary, he said the villagers applauded the development project
“This project has been resolved through public information and organised through a consulting forum. We’ve begun laying down concrete and put the project into operation in the areas where we have reached a resolution."
“In the areas that have not been addressed, we are working with the people to resolve their issues,” he said.
Meng Kuon, a representative of the 320 families, told The Post on Thursday that each family will be given a plot of land four metres long and 15 metres wide.
“They were worried about the relocation. They don’t have the money to build new houses in the new area. The authorities said they don’t have money [either. They] only granted us land in exchange for our old land [and not housing].
“Nobody is protesting the issue – the villagers merely complain. We don’t have the money to move and buy the hardware to built new houses. Utilities such as water and electricity, as well as other services, the government will help prepare for us,” she said.
Soeung Sen Karuna, the spokesperson for rights group Adhoc, said as a human right to an adequate standard of living, it is important that people have homes. Their rights are infringed upon if they are unable to receive acceptable compensation for a new home.
“If we are living somewhere and are then ordered to relocate, that’s going to deliver a large blow to our living standards if we’re not sufficiently compensated,” Sen Karuna said.
He said national development is very important, but the process will affect some people.
“What must be taken into consideration is seeing that the relevant authorities come to a resolution in terms of land and housing. However, in this case, only land has been provided,” he said.