Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers in land dispute with airport developers meet with district authorities

Villagers in land dispute with airport developers meet with district authorities

Hundreds of residents of Kandal Stung district’s Ampov Prey commune gathered outside the district hall on Friday. Multiple communes in the area have been swept up in land disputes after the government announced a massive airport development project in the district in January. Facebook
Hundreds of residents of Kandal Stung district’s Ampov Prey commune gathered outside the district hall on Friday. Multiple communes in the area have been swept up in land disputes after the government announced a massive airport development project in the district in January. Facebook

Villagers in land dispute with airport developers meet with district authorities

Hundreds of people gathered to protest at the Kandal Stung district hall against a company that has allegedly laid claim to their land on Friday, part of an ongoing dispute that involves thousands of families in Kandal province over an area slated to become a new airport.

Roughly 1,200 families from Ampov Prey commune thumb-printed a document asking district officials for compensation after learning that land they have lived on – some of them since the mid-1990s, according to the group's representatives – is likely to become part of the new development.

Village representative Yen Yat, 52, said around 400 hectares in the commune were claimed by Heng Development company, owned by Oknha Seang Chanheng, as well as other unknown companies that appear to have real estate interests in the area.

“Heng Development was the first company that grabbed our land, but now this company may have transferred to another company which we don’t know,” Yat said. “There are around five companies total.”

“We aren’t protesting against the development,” Yat added. “We just want proper compensation because we farm and fish on this land.”

The dispute is the latest to erupt in Kandal Stung district after the government announced a massive new airport development in the area in January, sending land prices skyrocketing.

Read more: Will huge new airport planned for Kandal see locals stripped of land?

Deputy district governor Ouch Saroeun said he met with about 20 representatives from the Ampov Prey villagers on Friday and would forward their petition to the provincial governor, Mao Phearun, who previously denied the same villagers’ claims last month after declaring they lacked land titles.

Saroeun also acknowledged that several private companies and individuals own land in the area, but said he could not name the companies or individuals.

“I am just a mediator,” Saroeun said. “I just bring the word to the higher level.”

“We will do everything to protect the interests of the people,” he added.

On Wednesday, residents of nearby Choeung Koeub commune protested against the Min Yu Cultural Foundation, a little-known company linked to Oknha Huot Vanthan, after provincial authorities informed the villagers that the Supreme Court had ruled against their land claims in 2014.

And on Thursday, residents in Kandal Stung’s Prek Sleng commune who are involved in a separate dispute with Heng Development said they were nearing a resolution, having struck a deal to sell their land to the firm.

Yat said villagers from Ampov Prey were still discussing how much to ask in compensation, but said he heard the land is valued at about $5.50 per square metre.

In the weeks after the government announced the airport, prices on signs throughout the district were asking for between $15 and $30 per square metre.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement