The governor of Phnom Penh's northern Russey Keo district met yesterday with hundreds of villagers to hear their grievances over the planned construction of a road – and potential displacement of residents – along an existing unused stretch of railroad track.

Governor Chea Pisey clarified that the planned 4.6-kilometre stretch of road will be 30 metres wide, with an additional 15 metres on each side of the road slated to be cleared for sidewalks. The road would run through Kilometre 6, Russey Keo and Tuol Sangke communes.

Keng Narun, one of the representatives of the approximately 1,000 affected families, said it was the additional 15 metres the government required on either side of the road that left locals most unhappy, as they may result in some families either having to move elsewhere or losing a portion of their land.

Pisey declined to comment after the meeting.

Municipal Governor Khoung Sreng on Thursday visited the site of the construction and promised compensation for affected villagers.

Siak Tepy from the Housing Rights Task Force said he expects authorities to solve the case smoothly given that it is an election year.

“They do not want the solution like in Boeung Kak or other chronic land disputes and they are gravely concerned about this [image] problem,” he said.