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Train track squatters told to clear out

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A village next to railway tracks in Boeung Kak I commune of Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district. Heng Chivoan

Train track squatters told to clear out

More than 60 families living in Boeung Kak I commune of Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district were ordered by local authorities to remove fences and crops lining railway tracks by August 19. However, the people have protested and refused to follow the order.

Boeung Kak I commune hall issued a notice on August 16 to people living along the railway tracks in Village 14 who have recently planted banana trees and built fences in the Toul Kork II Reservoir area to remove them in three days from August 16-19.

The notice further stated that the government was implementing the onsite development policy and preparing to issue land titles to residents for land measuring 4 by 10m.

“For the development process to proceed smoothly and as planned, please remove the fences and crops from the area from the date of this notice until August 19, 2021,” the notice said.

Tuol Kork district authorities also warned that if residents failed to comply with the notice, the commune and district authorities would take legal action and remove the fences and crops without being held responsible for any damage or loss to property.

Thorn Sareth, a resident who has lived on the land for about 40 years, told The Post on August 17 that the people would reject the order as they had lived on the land for a long time.

He said in 2017, they had agreed to give 25.50m of land to widen a canal and another 6m for the street along the canal so that the municipality could reduce flooding in the city.

“It is very unfair for us. I had previously given land to the state. We only have a few plots left and [the city hall] wants the other half of our land to be distributed to others. I ask what my children will have. We only have the land and we expect to have a land title,” he said.

As the August 19 deadline is approaching, he said all affected residents will protest the removal of their property.

“When the authorities come to take our property, we can only use force against them. The more than 60 families are determined to put up car tyres to block them. We are worried, but we have no choice. We will protect our land on which we have lived for 40 years,” Sareth said.

District governor Ek Khun Doeun told The Post on August 17 that if the people are not satisfied with the notice, they can stage a protest in front of the commune or district halls.

He argued that the district administration made the decision because the people are living in an untidy area on public roads. The authorities will allocate land to them according to the onsite development policy. Other land they have occupied will be allocated accordingly.

“If they are not satisfied, let them come to the commune or district [hall] because this land is a public road, a canal and the railway,” Khun Doeun said.

“We will coordinate with them so that they accept this onsite development policy according to the allocation decision of the municipal hall.”

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