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Villagers: End our land row

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Villagers from Kampong Speu province’s Oral district are seeking a solution to their decade-old land dispute at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. Hong Menea

Villagers: End our land row

Eighty residents from Kampong Speu province once again protested in front of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction on Monday, seeking a solution to their decade-long land dispute.

Their representative, Mai Men, said the ministry questioned him about the land row and had promised to inspect the area on Thursday to try and resolve it.

The dispute is with HLH Company and Ly Yong Phat Sugar Company over farmland in Trapaing Srotoap village in Oral district’s Trapaing Chor commune.

“The ministry told us that if no solution can be found on Thursday or Friday, [we should] come again. [They] told us that they would solve the dispute, but they have said this several times before,” Men said, promising to return on Saturday should the situation not be resolved.

Saing Bun, one of those present, said that before coming to the ministry, the protesters had tried to find a solution at the local level, but unsuccessfully.

“We have been to the ministry several times already, but we only get promises, not solutions. I appeal to [minister] Chea Sophara to speed up finding a solution."

“Since the dispute began, I have no land to cultivate, we get poorer and poorer and we are in debt,” he said.

Trapaing Srotoap village chief Chou Mai said the farmland had been handed down from their ancestors and the villagers had controlled the land since 1980.

“From what I know of the background of the land, it [was] passed on by the older generation,” he said.

Mai said nobody in Oral district had documents back then. He said the land varies in size, with some people having 2-3ha and some up to 5ha.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang said on Tuesday that he has to solve the issue step by step and it requires time to conduct a thorough study of the facts.

“We do not want to leave their dispute unresolved . . . I just want to solve the problem as soon as possible so that we can feel relieved. We have made an effort, but the task has its steps."

“We are working on it daily and have not left it behind. They want us to solve this dispute today and get a result today, but how can we do that because it requires background documents?"

“Some people have filed unclear documents. Therefore, we need to verify the documentation. This slows us down,” he said.

The Post was unable to reach the two companies or Ministry of Land Management spokesman Seng Lout for comment.

On December 25, the ministry announced a plan to accelerate the process of solving all remaining land disputes this year using available means.

The announcement said that the ministry intended to establish a national authority for land dispute resolution, land management committees, a mobile land dispute resolution team and use additional mechanisms at the ministry’s disposal to ensure social harmony.

EU ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar said the bloc has been working with the government for some time on issues arising from land claims in relation to economic land concessions granted for the production of sugar cane.

“We hope that under the leadership of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction the remaining claims can be resolved in an inclusive, equitable and transparent way,” he said.

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