Thursday, 29 January 2009

Group 78 asks if it will be next

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chhay Channyda and Brendan Brady
Thursday, 29 January 2009

IN the wake of the forced removal Saturday of scores of families from Dey Krahorm, residents of another riverside shantytown community, Group 78, worry the gaze of urban development will fall on them next.

The city has planned a road through the small neighbourhood as part of its plan for a new bridge spanning the Bassac river.

"Eighty-eight families live in Group 78, community representative Lim Sambo said Wednesday, but "our story is different from the people from Dey Krahorm", he said.

"Their own community leaders cheated them. We are not a community in the same way, so no one person can do that."

But anxiety prevails in the community, which is less than a kilometre from Dey Krahorm.

Sim Pov said he and his neighbours thought their neighbourhood would be evicted the same day hundreds of police and workers moved in to demolish homes in Dey Krahorm.

Tan Khem Ny, 29, said City Hall had offered residents a house in Trapaing Anchanh village - more than a dozen kilometers outside the city - as well as US$5,000 to leave, but homeowners demanded $3,500 per square metre.

With the help of the Cambodian Legal Education Centre (CLEC), residents have crafted a plan to remain onsite by building and moving into a concrete building in a corner of their neighborhood, allowing the rest to be bought and developed by the municipality.

Man Vuthy of CLEC said Group 78 had already proved an adept negotiator through proactive planning. He also said it stood on sturdier legal ground than did its besieged neighbor, as the majority of its residents hold multiple documents - including family books, voting cards and citizen IDs - proving land ownership.

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