October 12, 2010
Oct. 12, 2010. BKL community residents gathered at City Hall today to ask the municipality to address the increasingly high levels of flooding in the community.
Calling on Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema to hear and address their complaints, the residents were met by deaf ears. Eventually, as is becoming a standard response to BKL residents demanding their rights, riot police herded them away from from City Hall’s northwestern gate.
Flooding levels in the areas surrounding BKL are at levels similar to those experienced in late August, when many residents were forced to abandon their homes. Most access roads are flooded, with water levels rising to knee-height after only a few steps into the filth. The water is murky, with rubbish floating about freely. Residents have no option but to walk through the water to reach their homes.
It also appears the sluiceway, now fenced in, is not draining the water out of the area. Even so, water levels in the Oveng canal are several metres higher than only a month ago – homes in Russei Keo north of Boeung Kak are now also flooded.
Homes in Village 2 on the western side of the railway tracks bordering what used to be the lake, are suffering a similar fate. Though a makeshift canal has been dug in the sand to drain rainwater into Village 1, water is pouring into the low-lying homes of Village 2 as the lake is no longer there to collect the rain water.
The rain continues.
October 9, 2010
Oct. 9, 2010. While most of Cambodia celebrates the Pchum Ben national holiday by paying respects to their ancestors, Shukaku Inc. relentlessly continues pumping sand into Boeung Kak lake.
What used to be the last restaurant in the southern part of Village 1 is now but a few poles in a dune, while abandoned houses, previously homes, are inundated by sand. There is now also water in between the access road to Village 1 and the railway.
Sand levels lie several metres above remaining houses, even covering parts of the railway track along what used to be the lake’s western shore. Poles presumably marking the boundary between the Shukaku Inc. lease area and the railway lie less than 3.5m from the centre of the tracks, in what could be a violation of the railway’s Corridor of Impact (COI) which stretches 3.5m on both sides from the middle of the track, as well as its Right of Way (ROW) which stretches 20m both sides of the track in Phnom Penh. Both the COI and the ROW form part of state land, though there have been rumours Toll and the Royal Group, which are set to run the trains and have a lease on railway land, have made independent deals with Shukaku Inc. to determine the boundaries of their respective concessions.
In Village 24 on the lake’s eastern shore, few homes remain on the lake. Remaining residents say their neighbours who were offered US$8500 have already dismantled their homes and left, while those offered only US$1000 have few options but to stay. For how long, they don’t know.
Though the pumping of sand and water into Boeung Kak can be publicly verified, it is no longer possible to tell how much water is being drained out of the lake, as a tin fence has been erected around the sluiceway.
October 5, 2010
Oct. 4, 2010. Hundreds of residents from urban poor communities in Phnom Penh met at Chenla Theatre to mark World Habitat Day, despite the increasing pressure particularly on Boeung Kak residents who now face regular human rights violations.
Community members spoke of the plight facing them, while Christophe Peschoux, Country Director of OHCHR, delivered a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon which called for commitment to create better cities and bring an end to urban poverty.
A minute’s silence was held in respect for those affected by land and housing rights violations in Cambodia, after which NGO groups read out a media statement calling for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention in the situation at Boeung Kak.
For VOA coverage of the event, click here.
For Phnom Penh Post coverage click here.
October 3, 2010
Friday Oct. 1 saw police violently break up a demonstration by Boeung Kak residents in front of Hun Sen’s house. To see what happened, click here.
For Phnom Penh Post coverage of recent events at the lake, click here.