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Locals call for an end to land dispute

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Residents warned they would protest if the situation was not solved soon. Supplied

About 175 families locked in a land dispute with sugarcane plantation companies in Koh Kong province have asked an inter-ministerial group and provincial authorities to speed up the resolution process and end the conflict.

The inter-ministerial working group responded saying they would settle the land dispute completely in the near future, as well as in two other provinces.

The request made by residents from Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts was made yesterday in a meeting between seven citizen representatives and the provincial deputy governor, alongside relevant officials at Sre Ambel district’s Chik Leu commune hall.

Citizen representative Phav Nherng said that it had already been three months since locals had received any information about the progress of their dispute with the sugarcane plantation companies Koh Kong Plantation and Koh Kong Sugar Industry.

She asked provincial leaders and the inter-ministerial working group to speed up the resolution so they could live on and use their land.

“Our citizens agreed to receive three hectares of land and compensation of $2,500 per family, yet we have not received anything. They only collected information from us,” she said.

Ms Nherng warned that if the authorities did not provide a resolution by next week, locals would protest and block the way of the two companies.

“I asked them to make a written request of their demands, and the provincial level will take it to the national level,” said deputy provincial governor Orn Phearak.

Land Management Minister Chea Sophara said in a meeting with an EU delegation on Friday that the working team was moving forward to resolve land disputes in Koh Kong, Preah Vihear, and Kampong Speu provinces.

He said that for the resolutions to be effective, the working group would first solve disputes of people who had not yet received compensation from the companies, before moving on to those who have received compensation already.

Regarding a land dispute with sugarcane plantations granted economic land concessions in Oddar Meanchey province, the inter-ministerial working group has delegated the task of settlements to provincial authorities, because the company has returned the land to the government already.

Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak also said the government would resolve land dispute cases with transparency and justice.

EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar expressed his support and appreciation for the government’s efforts in its collaboration to resolve land disputes, which has yielded many results in the last four months.

In August 2017, an inter-ministerial working group including the land management, urban planning and construction, environment, agriculture and commerce ministries held a meeting to find solutions to land disputes between 540 families in Koh Kong, Preah Vihear and Kampong Speu provinces. The long-running disputes all relate to economic land concessions granted to sugarcane plantation companies.

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