The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has set up a working group in Preah Sihanouk province to resolve land disputes in the Poy Machov and Prek Teuk Sap Kbal Chhay areas.
Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara said in a letter dated Thursday that the ministry had established a task force and assigned officials, including the ministry’s under-secretary of state at the General Department of Cadastre and Geography (GDCG), Siek Vanna, and specialists.
Vanna will head the team, with GDCG director Lor Davuth as deputy. Pen Chansokkhemara will act as permanent deputy.
The letter specifies that the working group is to be tasked with looking into the land dispute in Koki village in Prey Nop district’s Bit Traing commune after a confrontation in January between protesters and security forces turned violent.
The group is also to determine the land titles and identities of those involved with a government allocation in the multi-use areas of Prek Teuk Sap Kbal Chhay in Village I in Sihanoukville’s Commune II.
Sophara said the task force will collaborate with local authorities and relevant institutions to investigate such disputes.
“The working group is to be tasked with reporting the results of its work to the ministry for review and approval. The team can use the ministry’s subordinate officials to help with the work as needed,” the letter says.
Neither ministry spokesman Seng Lot nor provincial department director Cheng Srong could be reached for comment.
Provincial hall spokesperson Or Saroeun told The Post on Sunday that his administration had often asked the ministry to help resolve land disputes.
You Veasna, who represents communities locked in land disputes in the province, said he welcomed the formation of the team.
“The Kbal Chhay area has a lot of land disputes because some wealthy people have taken possession of old land titles since 1990, some have used a government sub-decree and some have based their claims on letters signed by the Preah Sihanouk provincial governor."
“The Prek Teuk Sap Kbal Chhay area covers more than 6,000ha. All land titles to it have been cancelled following a 2002 order to designate the area as forest cover and become state land."
“It was designated as a clean water area, but in the end it became the site of major land disputes,” Veasna said.
He added that the Prek Teuk Sap Kbal Chhay disputes were caused mainly by wealthy and powerful individuals basing their claims on the old land titles from 1990.