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SOS says billboard a problem

A woman yesterday rides past a billboard displaying a map of the proposed extension of Phnom Penh International Airport in the city’s Thmor Kol commune.
A woman yesterday rides past a billboard displaying a map of the proposed extension of Phnom Penh International Airport in the city’s Thmor Kol commune. Heng Chivoan

SOS says billboard a problem

Residents from the Thmor Kol, or SOS, community yesterday raised concerns over a billboard touting a now-defunct expansion plan for the Phnom Penh International Airport, claiming it was making it difficult to sell their plots or get land titles.

The community, located just outside the airport, had been locked in a long dispute with the local government over a potential expansion of the facility that would have seen them moved from their land.

The dispute had appeared to come to an end in June, with senior minister Yem Nolla, director of the economic, social and cultural council, telling 600 families living in five villages that their land was safe, as the government had instead decided to build a new airport 30 to 40 kilometres outside the city.

Yesterday however, Phoung Sopheap, a community representative, said the continued display of a billboard featuring the old expansion plans was affecting their ability to sell their land, or use it as collateral.

“When I went to the bank for a loan, bank officials did not provide a loan to me because they think our land is in the development plan,” he said.

Both Sinn Sereyvutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), and Khek Norinda, public relations director for Cambodia Airports, confirmed that there were no plans for expanding the airport at its current location.

Sereyvutha directed questions about the billboard to City Hall, saying it was the municipality’s job to remove it. But municipal spokesman Met Measpheakdey yesterday in-sisted it was up to the SSCA to remove the billboard.

“It is under the authority of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation – so they can drop it or not,” he said.

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