Twenty-three Phnom Penh families left out of a government plan to grant long-awaited land titles to the residents of the city’s former Boeng Kak lake handed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet a letter yesterday asking to be included in the deal.
The families all live on the southwestern edge of the former lake, which has been nearly filled in with sand to lay the ground for a CPP senator’s controversial real estate project.
A sub-decree signed by the premier earlier this month set aside a 12.44 hectare plot of land in the project where the 800 or so families not yet evicted from the site could keep their homes. But to the dismay of the 23 families, those 12.44 hectares all lay along the lake’s eastern bank.
The excluded families want the government to swap their current homes for land inside the 12.44 hectares. “We have been affected by the Boeng Kak development project. Our houses have been flooded and the sewage system has been blocked for more than a year,” said Chan Puthisak.
Kong Chamroeun, a member of the prime minister’s Cabinet who met the residents at Botum Park, said the Cabinet would inform the families of its decision.
On Tuesday, however, Mr Chamroeun told the families they were not eligible for the government’s help and that they would have to take up their claims with the Finance Ministry, Asian Development Bank and Toll Royal Railway.
The ADB is helping fund a project to rehabilitate the country’s dilapidated railway tracks, a stretch of which runs past the 23 families’ homes.
ADB Country Director Putu Kamayana said the families were the government’s responsibility because they were on “state land by law.” But he added that they would not be forced to move, at least not by the railway project.
Toll Royal Railway CEO David Kerr likewise said the families were not its responsibility.
“We have a contract with the government, a concession agreement, and it’s very clear in there,” he said.
Mr Kerr noted that the railway had not even been handed over to Toll yet.
Once it was, he said, the firm would be responsible for operating and maintaining the line and nothing more.
Finance Ministry officials could not be reached.
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