Squatter Families Given Land Near Airport

More than 164 squatter families will have to move from Boeng Salang lake, Tuol Kok district, to a plot of land near Poch­en­tong International Airport early next year to make room for an urban development project, municipal officials said recently.

The families are also being moved because they pollute the lake with rubbish, said Chhay Rithy Sen, an officer at the Ministry of Land Management.

“We will provide some compensation and land for the re­moval of [the squatters’ houses],” he said, adding that the number of families has increased in recent years from 87 before 2000 to about 200 families now. “The [increase in population] affects the city’s environment and people’s health.”

The main development project for Boeng Salang is the planned Boeng Tompun dam, which would help protect Phnom Penh from floods, Governor Chea Sophara said. Developing the area will also help attract tourists to Phnom Penh, he said.

Chea Sophara said most people living in Boeng Salang are poor and would be happy to move to an area where the environment is not polluted.

Several squatters living in the area agreed with the governor.

“[City officials] came and surveyed the plot of land we live in and they promised to pay $12 per square meter of land—and they will give us a plot of land which is 7 meters by 17 meters or 8 meters by 12 meters,” said Leng Sitha, 42, a tailor currently living at Boeng Salang.

She said she was happy with the development project and pleased the city found a good place for her and the other squatters in Boeng Salang to live.

“I only hope the new location will have electricity and enough water,” she said.

Ath Van, a vendor currently living at Boeng Salang, said she had heard an announcement that the city will relocate the villagers but had not heard a detailed plan about the move.

“If [the city] wants us to move, we must respect the plan,” she said.

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