Residents worry over expressway project

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Residents living by the tracks, fear eviction . Hong Menea

Residents worry over expressway project

After the announcement made by Prime Minister Hun Sen on January 5 which tentatively approved an expressway from the Phnom Penh International Airport to the city centre, residents living beside the existing railway have become concerned as concrete details remain elusive.

The alleged project will be 19 metres wide and 13-kilometre long, running either beside or above the existing railway tracks.

On January 11, more than 150 people living along the railway line gathered at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, demanding information about the plan after claiming there was no public consultation.

Still, up until now, specifications of the project have yet to be revealed to the railroad residents as well as to the local authorities.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche was unable to provide details when contacted on Tuesday evening, saying that City Hall has yet to receive official guidelines from the Prime Minister.

“We will only seek project development partners after receiving permission from the head of the government,” he said.

Nevertheless, since Hun Sen’s announcement, bids to develop the project have come pouring in from both local and foreign companies Dimanche said, adding that City Hall is currently reviewing the profiles of the companies.

“We cannot confirm yet whether it will be a sky, land, or underground road as we are in the process of examining each submitted developer’s application,” he said.

Residents living beside the railway worry that without knowing details of the project, they will face forced eviction, regardless of what the final plan is.

Meas Mon, 67, whose house is about six metres away from the railway, claimed that he has lived there since 1979 and has never received a land title. Until this past Monday, he was unaware of the proposed expressway until the village chief informed him.

Teng Nita, a home-maker living further down the line near Toul Kork, said “I do not want to leave this area because it is near my children’s school, and near the market, and I can still earn money easily from home,” she said.

Nevertheless, she welcomed the development, providing that she is properly compensated for the loss and damage her home will inevitably undergo.

Raksmey Annie, a salon owner who also owns a house in the southern side of the railway, explained that his family had purchased an 80 square metre house in 2000 and had spent thousands of dollars in renovations.

“If they really build a 19 metre wide sky bridge or widen the roads by 10 metres, I will lose four metres of land,” he said.

“The government should provide compensation that correlates with the market price or with the size of the damage that has been incurred upon affected residents, and only then will there be no problems,” she said.

Hang Sokun, community manager for Equitable Cambodia, has long witnessed the impacts developments have on communities living in Phnom Penh.

“Based on my experience, development projects usually affect residents who are unsatisfied with solutions or compensations from the government,” Sokun said, adding that most people want an agreeable trade or a sustainable development, instead of monetary compensation.

“According to initial data from [my] organisation, there are at least 1,200 families living along the whole railroad, whose livelihoods can be impacted by the expressway project. If this project does not provide a suitable solution, there will come about many future problems,” he explained.

Worse still, he continued, would be for the residents who had been previously evicted from Boeung Kak Lake and who have settled along this railroad – fearing that history will repeat itself.

Dimanche stated that for those living along the railway, there is little legal protection afforded.

“As far as I know, a sub-decree states that there will be 30 metres of land left untouched on each side of the rail, meaning that residents living less than 30 metres away from the rail tracks may not receive land ownership titles from the authority,” he said.


  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • China-Cambodia tourism forum held

    The Cambodian tourism sector must be prepared to welcome a growing number of Chinese tourists, as they lead the globe in the number of outbound travellers and were responsible for the most visitors to the Kingdom last year, the country’s tourism minister said on