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Russei Keo project raises fears

Russei Keo project raises fears

Authorities say as many as 236 families could lose land to highway expansion

CITY officials met Tuesday to discuss the construction of a 2.5-metre median strip that will be built as part of plans to expand National Road 6, as residents living close to the road accused them of failing to address concerns that they they will lose their homes to the project.

Suong Sothan, a resident of Keanklaing village in Russei Keo district’s Chruoy Changvar commune, said villagers would volunteer to move as long as authorities provide them with 5-by-12-metre plots of land in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune, or pay US$8,500 in cash compensation.

Sueng Phun, a village representative, said: “We do not object to the road-expansion project, but we want the authorities to provide us with decent compensation.”

The US$143,199 project, which is intended to ease traffic jams on a 4-kilometre stretch running from the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge to a new Ministry of Health building, will expand the road from a width of 25 metres to 60 metres, including a 3-metre-wide pavement on each side and a 2.5-metre median strip.

Russei Keo district governor Khlaing Huot said that at the Tuesday meeting officials had talked about ways to beautify the median strip with a garden as well as other aspects of the project, but declined to elaborate.

He did note, though, that officials had not broached the subject of relocation or compensation for families that stand to be affected by the project.

“We know the road-expansion project will impact many homes of residents who live on or near the sidewalk. We are still considering the people’s request to only expand the road by 27.5 metres and also considering relocation options,” he said.

A May 25 letter signed by National Assembly President Heng Samrin urged local officials to consider scaling back the road expansion in response to a request from 100 families who fear they will lose their homes if current plans go ahead.

Chruoy Changvar commune authorities now say that as many as 236 families could be affected by the project. Meas Rachana, a secretary to Chrouy Changvar commune chief Pich Saroeun, said that around 88 families are set to lose their entire homes to the project, and that 148 families would lose part of their land.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said the authorities should find a resolution for the residents and make sure they have new homes before the development project moves ahead.

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