Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Roadwork start prompts worries among residents

Roadwork start prompts worries among residents

A man in Phnom Penh yesterday works beside an unused railway track which will be developed into a new road. Despite construction beginning yesterday, compensation for residents remains unclear.
A man in Phnom Penh yesterday works beside an unused railway track which will be developed into a new road. Despite construction beginning yesterday, compensation for residents remains unclear. Hong Menea

Roadwork start prompts worries among residents

At a groundbreaking ce­remony in Russey Keo district yesterday, Phnom Penh’s governor announced the city would immediately convert a disused railway into a new road, an announcement that came as a shock to affected families who said the road – let alone compensation – had never been discussed with them.

The road was first alluded to in April by Prime Minister Hun Sen on the same day he nixed plans for a multi-million dollar airport expressway – which was to be built along a west-bound railway line – due to public outcry.

Seemingly hoping to preemptively counter similar unrest, Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong yesterday told some 100 attendees at the ceremony that the new north-bound road would be to their benefit.

“The project to build a new road along the railway will reduce traffic jams on National Road 5,” he said, adding it would help facilitate rubbish collection and provide a faster route in emergencies. “I appeal to the villagers along this street to join and cooperate together with City Hall to run this project successfully.”

Phnom Penh Public Works and Transport Department director Sam Piseth said the road would stretch 4.5 kilometres along the train line, from Street 70 near the former Boeung Kak lake site, to Kilometre 6 in Russey Keo, where it would connect with National Road 5.

The road would span approximately 16 metres – seven metres for each lane, with a 2-metre-wide median strip, Piseth added. “We will spend the next four months constructing it,” he said.

Long Chandy, 40, a representative from the local Klaing Saing community, said while there had been many rumours circulating about different projects, they had never materialised until now.

“But yesterday, when the City Hall officials came to announce and open construction in this area, we were in a panic,” he said.

“They just spoke about the development and construction; they did not tell us about any compensation,” he said.

Villager Sim Vireak, 42, said he was fearful he would lose his home.

“My house is completely affected if they expand seven metres for the road on each side,” he said. “I am very disappointed that they did tell us about any compensation or any resolution.”

Soeung Saran, executive director at urban housing rights NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said that about 1,000 families from nine communities would be impacted, and despite their repeated requests for information, had largely been ignored until the sudden unveiling of the plan for the road.

“The consultation or discussion about compensation should happen prior to the actual development taking place,” Saran said.

“So it seems the possibility of providing fair compensation is very low,” he said, adding that backing residents into a corner was part of a pattern by authorities. “I see a similar example in Boeung Kak [lake]; if you don’t take the option they provide, you will be left with nothing or they will start pumping sand into your house and making your life difficult until there is no option.”

However, Phnom Penh municipality spokesman Mean Chanyada yesterday insisted solutions would be found and the problem was “not a big deal”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer