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Residents protest expansion of new road over old railway

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The new road will affect more than 1,000 families from nine communities. KT/Mai Vireak

Nearly 300 residents affected by the development of a road from an old railway in Phnom Penh went to Russey Keo District Hall yesterday begging authorities not to increase the width of the new road as it will affect their land and homes.

In 2016, Phnom Penh City Hall announced that the road would be built from the railway from Street 70 near the old Boeung Kak lake to Kilometre 6 in Russey Keo district.

Development of the 4.5-kilometre road will affect more than 1,000 families from nine communities.

Dern Pov, a 35-year-old affected villager, said Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng visited the development area on Thursday and told villagers that authorities would expand the road to 30 metres in width.

She said the villagers suggested the road only be expanded to 15 metres because double that would affect everyone greatly.

“Some villagers’ homes are small and if the authority expands to 30 metres, my house and others will be affected,” she said.

Kong Raing, a 45-year-old villager, said he did not agree with a plan to distribute the land in a manner that would offset the loss to some villagers.

“Authorities will take land from villagers who have a lot of land and give it to villagers who have to move. I cannot accept it because it’s unfair to the villagers who have more land,” he said.

On Sunday, more than 50 villagers protested walking along the old railway, demanding that authorities only expand by 15 metres.

Russey Keo district governor Chea Pisei explained that the new road would be 15 metres wide, but an additional 7.5 metres was needed on each side of the road as a buffer between villagers’ homes.

“Even though some villagers have a small amount of land and some have a large amount, you are all living on state land and the state needs it now for development. I will take your problem to the Phnom Penh governor,” he said.

He suggested that villagers stop disturbing public order and file a petition with authorities. Mr Pisei added that the road must be developed.

“There is a lot of rubbish in this community and it has a narrow road. If a fire happens, it will be very difficult to intervene,” he said.

Authorities also expect the new road will help alleviate traffic congestion on nearby National Road 5.

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