Written by SAM RITH AND CHRISTOPHER SHAY
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Municipality says it is still considering the community’s proposal, but will request that residents and NGOs help pay the cost of the relocation site
RESIDENTS of Group 34 say City Hall is backtracking on its promise to move the community to a plot of land close to Phnom Penh city in Dangkor district.
"People will not agree to move if the Phnom Penh Municipality does not agree to our request [to remain near the city]," said Group 34 representative, Touch Sophoan, who was among the more than 225 families who watched their homes destroyed by a suspected arson attack in May.
But Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said City Hall had not yet ruled out the plot that the community had requested.
"We are still having discussions with each other," he told the Post.
In late May, both municipal officials and the community said that an agreement had been reached to send the community about 10 kilometres away to a spot in Dangkor district owned by Thoang Chantha, who said he was happy to sell the land.
But now, the main obstacle is money, according to Mann Chhoeun.
He said he wants the community, the company developing the land and NGOs to help the government purchase the land.
"The people themselves also have to participate in [paying money to buy the land]," he said. "We know that if the Phnom Penh Municipality just offers them the land and house with no participation from people, they will sell their land and houses, and move back," he said.
"NGOs who are used to criticising should distribute money, and the company that would like to develop the road should help buy the land too," he added.
But community members say that after the fire, they simply do not have money to give to the government.
"If the municipality requires people to help buy the land, the people here will not be able to offer any, because they have no money left," Touch Sophan said.