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Salt co-ops seek PM’s help

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Salt reservoirs under pressure from business encroachers in Kampot province. FRESH NEWS

Salt co-ops seek PM’s help

A coalition of six salt production co-ops at Boeung Touk centre in Beoung Touk commune’s Toteung Tngay village of Kampot province’s Teuk Chhou district have petitioned Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene with provincial authorities by ordering them to grant them titles of ownership for 24ha of land.

Signed by 21 people, the petition requested that the prime minister grant them private property ownership titles for the 24ha of land in the centre, which they say is in accordance with a decision by the Office of the Council Ministers.

“Only Samdech [Hun Sen] can find justice for our salt production coalition and ensure the proper implementation of letter No 1432 dated September 8, 2006, from the Council of Ministers and in agreement with other regulations from the relevant ministries.

“Please stop powerful people from using their influence to encroach on the land without any fear of the law,” the letter said.

The salt producers claim that the letter from the Council of Ministers granted rights to 71 groups of salt producers, including the six in Boeung Touk centre who believe they are entitled to 4ha of land per group for a total of 24ha.

In 2007, the Kampot provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy surveyed the land and came up with a map that defined the location and boundaries of the land for the salt production co-ops of Boeung Touk, but they say the measurements were made at high tide and were inaccurate.

The map from the department indicates that there is only 22.09ha at their location but that figure is not correct as stated in the Council of Ministers’ letter.

Then in 2020, the co-ops alleged, a wealthy businessman named Kong Samnang – who was allegedly colluding with other powerful people – began using a ferry to dredge the salt water reservoir belonging to the salt producers and the lack of seawater had seriously affected salt production levels there.

The coalition said they went to the authorities and reported the activity but to no avail as Samnang and his people simply refused to stop.

The salt producers said that after requesting a series of interventions from the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation and provincial department, they eventually measured their 24ha of land correctly and in accordance with the Council of Ministers’ letter.

After receiving the property title for the 24ha, the co-ops requested issuance of the property ownership title in accordance with procedure. However, Kong Malay – the daughter of Kong Samnang – and her associates objected to the request and disregard the Council’s decision.

“In this regard, the ministry has issued a letter dated November 3, 2021, to the Kampot Provincial Hall requesting the issuance of ownership title to our salt production group, but no action has been taken,” said the petition.

Deputy provincial governor Ung Chhay said on December 27 that he did not know what the mechanism for the provincial hall was for resolving this issue but he would ask the governor for guidance and then proceed with the necessary measures.

Boeung Touk commune chief Moul Sokhom said on December 27 that this case was already effectively resolved because the sand dredger stopped its operations. He said he was uncertain as to why the case persisted.

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