Firm refuses housing pleas

Khouth Sophakchakrya, Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 18 2012
The owner of development firm Phan Imex Company said yesterday that 64 families from the capital’s Borei Keila community who were demanding compensation for houses demolished on January 3 did not have the documents to prove they had owned a house on the site.

Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
A boy watches as homes are demolished in the Borei Keila community earlier this month.

Phan Imex president Suy Sophan told the Post yesterday that her company would not compensate these families for any losses, but would offer them “humanitarian” payments of US$200 to $500.

“Most of the protesters are those who have bought a house after 2003 or rented houses at Borei Keila,” she said.

“Many are children of the residents who have received flats from our projects – the company cannot give these people another flat.”

Ten families, most of whom had rented houses or cottages belonging to residents in Borei Keila after survey registration in 2003, accepted the offer, Suy Sophan said, with the “humanitarian” money intended to help families run businesses or return to their homelands.

However, Pich Lim Khuon, a representative of Borei Keila residents who refused to accept land and houses at relocation sites in Dangkor district and Kandal province, said  that villagers had lost their ownership documents when their houses were destroyed.

“It is really unfair for us,” he said, adding that families who accepted the money had done so because they were children and relatives of families who had already received flats.

In 2003, Phan Imex agreed to construct 10 buildings on two hectares of land to house 1,776 families, in exchange for development rights to a remaining 2.6 hectares. The firm has constructed only eight buildings.

Thirty women and children detained last week during a protest led by Borei Keila residents remained in Prey Speu social affairs centre yesterday, while eight villagers arrested during clashes on January 3 were still being held in Prey Sar prison.

Meanwhile, a representative of villagers living at Boeung Kak lake yesterday met with World Bank representatives to discuss their living conditions.

Villager Tep Vanny told the Post that the World Bank had promised to help lakeside residents who were still facing  eviction. The World Bank could not be reached for comment.

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