A part of the new bamboo railway in Battambang province was blocked yesterday over of a dispute between the owner of the construction company that built the line and a man claiming the railway ran through his land near Banan mountain.
The new bamboo train, which was inaugurated recently, is more than 20 kilometres from Battambang town. The line starts near the base of Banan mountain, on which sits an Angkorian temple, in Kanteu II commune’s Sang village, before ending 4km down the line in Chhoeuteal commune.
Banan district officials confirmed that a man blocked the railway with his truck about 100 metres from the start of the line at about 9am yesterday. He claimed the railway impeded his land.
District governor Chum Nhor said he ordered his officials to go and resolve the problem but the man refused to allow the bamboo train, known as norri in Khmer, to continue operating on that section of track.
“We invited both parties and others involved to take part in a meeting on Monday to solve this problem at district hall,” said Mr Nhor, who declined further comment because he was busy in a meeting.
District police chief Pan Vanny said the dispute arose yesterday morning when the man drove his truck over the tracks.
“The owner of the construction company and the man did not agree, so the district governor will hold a meeting on Monday to solve this problem,” he said.
Mr Vanny said he did not know the details of the land dispute. “During Chinese New Year, thousands of people including foreigners visited there,” he said.
The owner of the construction company, who only identified himself as Bora, said he did not know to whom the land in question belonged.
He said the man claimed to have a title since 1996 for the land, on which he built a stupa for the remains of his parents, but others have told him the land belongs to the community.
“We will wait for the resolution from the district governor and provincial governor. I don’t have dispute with anyone, I just come here to help to promote tourism,” Mr Bora said.
“I hope the authorities help to solve this problem because I just want to continue running the bamboo train in the future.”
Mr Bora said that 200 to 300 people visited on a normal day but between 400 and 500 people came on holidays.
The price for one norri ride is $2.50 for Cambodians and $5 for foreigners.