THE much-maligned community of Phnom Penh squatters have apparently had plans
for a permanent home dashed again - by the developers of a golf
Twenty hectares of land in Beung Srayap commune, about five kms
northwest of Phnom Penh, has now been reserved for a golf course, Nith Sopha,
coordinator of the Urban Sector Group, said.
Kry Meng Hong, vice-governor
of Phnom Penh Municipality, said that he had just come back from Africa and
could not comment, but did say that he heard one of his governors propose the
land for a golf course.
In 1992, Concern International placed 500
squatter families from Phnom Penh to Kopsrove commune, about 15 kms away, but
the families returned in droves when their grounds flooded.
said since then the city had been looking the money to buy suitable land for the
squatters but had yet been able to find any.
"People complain that we do
not consider the squatters," he said.
"You see, all the land is already
occupied and it's expensive. No land is free or suitable for the squatters. Many
NGOs have been pledged to help but there is no money on hand. "
said that the land now marked for the golf course belongs to government. It had
been abandoned for many years, and only recently had a few houses been erected
"We want the government to provide the land. NGOs such as Asian
Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), PADEK and UNICEF, are going to help fund,
build, provide water, education and credit," she said.
Meng Hong said
that many squatters had their own houses in the provinces, but came into Phnom
Penh to make money.
They created problems, he said.
"You see, they
are the slum of our city. And they the source of robbery, prostitution and
gambling, " he said.
Sopha responded that it was not only the squatters
who broke the law, but ministers' sons used to rob and gamble. "In every corner
of Phnom Penh there is a brothel, not just in squatters' areas," she
She said the local municipal authority had asked money from
squatters for permission to build the houses, provided ID cards and legal
addresses - but later asked them to quit the city.
Nok Ing, 52, from
Svay Rieng, who is living on the bank of Bassac River told the Post that he gave
50,000 riel to a policeman in this district for his settlement - but he is still
having to squat illegally.
About 1,600 families - 12,000 people - have
been living on the river bank, road sides and roof tops since 1990. They have
jobs ranging from construction workers, moto-taxi and cyclo drivers, garbage
collectors and government workers.