Airport families seek PM’s help

By:Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Alice Cuddy,28 October 2014

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Villagers from Por Sen Chey district who may lose their homes to the planned expansion of Phnom Penh International Airport protested yesterday, appealing to Prime Minister Hun Sen for help. Pha Lina

Villagers faced with losing their homes to the planned expansion of Phnom Penh International Airport and left in the dark about compensation sought help from Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday.

About 30 Por Sen Chey district villagers, representing hundreds of affected families, gathered near the National Assembly in the morning to file a petition with the premier, calling on him to demand that $2,500 per square metre be awarded to the evictees and that land certificates be given to those who are allowed to stay in their homes.

“We need proper compensation … so that we can use it to buy land and build houses that we can live in with dignity,” said 78-year-old Chhem Seng.

The group was prevented from reaching the doors of the National Assembly by police officials and Daun Penh district security guards, but after more than an hour, a cabinet official received the petition.

In April, houses near the airport began to be marked for demolition and partial destruction to make way for a “buffer zone”, which authorities say is needed to bring the site in line with international standards.

Private company Green Goal was tasked with conducting a census of the area to establish how much compensation should be awarded to those affected.

But villagers yesterday said they had been kept in the dark about its results.

“The company’s silence makes us very concerned about losing our land and houses as other communities have when companies have grabbed their land without awarding any compensation,” said community representative Chhray Nym.

Tem Sareivouth, general manager at Green Goal, told the Post yesterday that the company completed its census last month, but results could not yet be revealed to the villagers.

“We are now doing data entry, and we need to show the government the results first,” he said.

Sareivouth added that in addition to information on compensation, the company was compiling an impact assessment on the expansion.

“We need to have as little impact as possible,” he said.

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