In the News: Will more houses be destroyed?

Monday, 08 December 2008
Written by Chhay Channyda 
The Phnom Penh Post

Day-and-night filling by Boeung Kak developers has remaining residents worried more houses will be destroyed

RESIDENTS of Village 4 on the edge of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake live in constant fear of losing their homes after another house collapsed on Saturday, with two more likely to topple soon, locals say.

Srah Chak commune chief Chhay Thirith said he was not aware of the latest house collapse. When contacted on Sunday, he said he will “look into the case later”. 

Resident Hok Lang’s house partially collapsed on November 19, forcing the 11 residents to now live in cramped conditions in the remaining front section.

According to Hok Lang, when the house collapsed, she was away in her hometown, leaving her children behind. No one was injured in the incident, she said.

“We are worried more houses will collapse if no solution to this problem is found,” she said, adding that authorities have ignored residents’ complaints and have tried to force them to accept US$8,500 per house in a compensation deal or a house at a relocation site.

In a letter written to Kep Chuktema, governor of the Municipality of Phnom Penh, on Thursday, four international human rights organizations slammed the development of Boeung Kak lake, claiming it breached the 2001 Land Law.

The letter, written by the International Federation for Human Rights, the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, said that the sand-filling of the lake by private developer Shukaku Inc, started on August 26, has “worsened flooding and caused destruction of some homes”.

It went on to note concern with the prevalence of forced evictions – evictions carried out without adequate notice, consultation with those affected, legal safeguards or assurances of adequate alternative accommodation – which violate Cambodian law and Cambodia’s international human rights obligations.

The letter stated that “recent research by Amnesty International and local partners indicates that 150,000 people in Cambodia are living under the threat of forced eviction, including up to 70,000 in Phnom Penh alone”.

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