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

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • US, Cambodia pledge to strengthen military ties

    The US on Tuesday pledged to help train military officers, particularly Cambodia’s blue helmet troops deployed for UN’s peacekeeping operations. The pledge was made during a meeting between US ambassador Patrick Murphy and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief General Vong Pisen. Further

  • Sokha treason case to go to trial after probe concludes

    The investigation into the charge of treason against Kem Sokha, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, has concluded, with the case sent for trial. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court is yet to announce a date for the hearing. “An investigating

  • Sokha lodges an appeal over treason case reaching court

    Kem Sokha, the president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has appealed against the decision to send his treason case to trial. Sokha’s legal team said their client was not satisfied with the decision of a Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating

  • EU ambassador expresses hope for Kingdom retaining EBA status

    New EU ambassador to Cambodia Carmen Moreno met with National Assembly president Heng Samrin and expressed her interest in helping Cambodia retain the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement. Moreno paid a courtesy call on Samrin at the National Assembly on Tuesday on her first day