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Residents plead for PM’s help

Residents plead for PM’s help

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A man walks past makeshift homes and partly demolished apartment blocks in the Borei Keila community in Prampi Makara district, Phnom Penh, yesterday.

We’ll struggle until we are dead at Borei Keila and absolutely will not relocate

Representatives of 384 families facing eviction from the capital’s Borei Keila community yesterday lashed out at a plan by property developer Phanimex to compensate them with land rather than adhere to its obligations to construct new homes for them.

Villagers protesting outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house yesterday condemned a scheme, suggested in a letter from Phanimex owner Suy Sophan, to give them 20 hectares of land in Prek Tameak commune in Kandal province and half a hectare in Phnom Penh.

In 2003, Phanimex agreed to construct 10 buildings on two hectares of land in Borei Keila to house more than 1,700 displaced families in exchange for the development rights. So far, however, the company has only built eight of 10 apartment buildings required.

The uncompleted project has left the 384 families in limbo, forced to remain in the squalid conditions of the 2.6-hectare area in Prampi Makara district as their neighbours move into the new, clean buildings.  

Around 30 residents protested outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Takhmao residence yesterday. Representative Uy Nary, 39, angrily rejected Suy Sophan’s plan before the group marched to Bayon television station to submit a letter calling for the premier’s intervention.  

“We’ll struggle until we’re dead at Borei Keila and absolutely will not relocate to Prek Tameak,” she said.

“We’ve protested many times. Maybe Samdech Hun Sen does not know about our issue, so we submitted a letter to Bayon TV station and we hope he will see it and help his citizens.”  

At Borei Keila yesterday, 47-year old Ouch Vanny said she’d lived there since 1996 and had all relevant identity documents to prove it. She fears Phanimex is going to forcibly kick her out of her home without giving her a place in one of the newly-built buildings.

“Our home will be locked or dismantled when we are out, so we [stay] at home. I dare to go out only at night time with my five-year-old daughter to collect recyclable materials to survive,” she said, adding she would accept any compensation available.

Communicating via notepaper, deaf resident Nhek Sarin, a former high-school professor of maths and English who lost the majority of his hearing in a motorbike accident in 1997, said that he is set to lose his home measuring roughly four-metres-square.

Other villagers said that unidentified people had been knocking door-to-door in search of bribes, offering spots in the new buildings for US$2,000 to $3,000.

Ouch Leng, Adhoc’s land programme officer, said he thought Phanimex’s real intention was to relocate the 384 families at Toul Sambo. A group of 20 HIV-affected families were relocated from Borei Keila to Toul Sambo in the capital’s Dangkor district by Phnom Penh municipal officials after they were evicted in June 2009. Rights groups have repeatedly raised alarms about the area’s severely scare resources such as water.  

Phnom Penh municipal government officials could not be reached for comment by Post staff yesterday.  Sok At, chief officer of the Prampi Makara district development programme said late last week he had received no official document regarding a change in the number of buildings at Borei Keila. Suy Sophan also could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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