Kratie protesters negotiate road access deal

Pav Suy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
About 200 villagers blocked a road to protest at having their access restricted. Supplied

About 200 villagers in Kratie province yesterday blocked a road leading through a Vietnamese-owned rubber plantation to protest the company’s decision to limit their travel across the land, successfully negotiating a new agreement.
 
The villagers in Chet Borey district’s Kantuot commune were upset that the company, Doty Saigon-Binh Phouc rubber plantation, began using reinforced steel bars to block the road, only opening it from 7am to 7pm. 
 
Heang Chhivkun, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said villagers used tractors to block the road yesterday because they need it to be freely accessible to transport goods and access farmland.
 
“Around two hundred people blocked the road to request the company remove the barriers and allow them to travel freely any time of day,” he said.
 
Mr Chhivkun said the villagers were also worried about news they would have to present identification cards to access the road from now on.
 
He added the company alleges some villagers use the road to transport illegal wood and it is worried such activities will tarnish its image.
 
Hang Samnang, an administration manager with Doty Saigon-Binh Phouc, said that after the protest, the company negotiated an agreement with the villagers.
 
“It is not true that they have to present their ID cards; it is just a rumour,” he said. 
 
“Now, the problem is settled and we have agreed that people can travel freely 24-hours, but if you transport goods, the time limit will be from 5am to 11pm.”
 
Mr Samnang also accused some villagers of transporting illegal timber and noted the company received an economic land concession for the rubber plantation, declining to comment on the area’s size.
 
Chet Borey district governor Hang Channy said the two sides agreed to the new time limit as noted by Mr Samnang, and added that the two sides signed a formal agreement.
 
Mr Channy also denied villagers would have to present ID cards when crossing the area.

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