|Written by Chhay Channyda|
|Tuesday, 30 December 2008|
Some 100 families holding out in Dey Krahorm say they will refuse to leave their homes until the company developing the land gives them more money
SEVERAL hundred Dey Krahorm residents who are facing an eviction deadline today say they will not leave the slum until the private company that has taken control of the land gives them a fair price for the homes they will lose.
Their refusal has set the stage for another outbreak of violence in the shantytown, rights workers warn, following several previous clashes between residents and representatives of 7NG, the developer who has a concession for the land.
"Human rights groups urge the government not to force people to leave their homes," said Bunn Rachana, a monitor with the Housing Rights Taskforce.
But city officials say they hope the standoff can be resolved through negotiations.
"We try not to use force to evict people - we must use negotiations as a way to find a solution," said Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun.
He added that most of Dey Krahorm's former residents have taken 7NG's compensation offer of relocation in Dangkor district's Damnak Trayoeng village.
Holdouts, he said, risk receiving far less than the US$30,000 to $50,000 that they are demanding from the company, which is offering $10,000 in lieu of a new house at the relocation site.
"The residents want a high price, but the company has no money to give them," he told the Post Monday.
He added that the company would give land titles to those families who have already relocated only after the remaining people left Dey Krahorm.
WHAT WE WANT IS LEGAL POSSESSION OF THE LAND.
Mann Chhoeun also downplayed residents' concerns that the relocation site was lacking infrastructure, saying that a school was under construction and 7NG would offer loans to residents who wanted to open businesses.
"Each family can borrow two million to five million riels ($500 to $1,250) to run the business," he said.
But residents say the offer is not enough for them to leave land that they say will be valued at many times whatever the company would pay them to leave.
"The villager cannot take what the company is offering," said Chan Vichet, a community representative speaking at a news conference in the slum Monday.
"What we want is legal possession of the land," he said, adding that even Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema warned Dey Krahorm residents not to be cheated when he visited the slum before the 2003 national elections.
"He said, ‘Please don't exchange your diamonds for stone'," Chan Vichet said.
Bunn Rachana said Dey Krahorm residents should have a legal right to the land under the Kingdom's land law.
"They legally occupy the land at Dey Krahorm according to the law," she said.
"They do not want to move."
The land, near the riverside in Chamkarmon district, was granted to 7NG in 2006 for the purposes of developing housing, at a time when real estate prices - even in former slumland - started to skyrocket.