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Hundreds protest road expansion

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Protesters were concerned yesterday when officials came to measure land. Nokor Wat

About 200 people from seven communities living along the old railway in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district protested yesterday when district authorities came to measure the expansion of each side of the track to 30 metres to construct a concrete road.

Doeun Peou, 35, said the residents protested because district officials came to measure and expand each side of the old track to 30 metres, affecting about 90 percent of the houses in the district.

Ms Peou said that the expansion of the new road was contrary to previous discussions between residents and district authorities in which the people asked for 15 metres rather than 30.

The villagers say the road expansion will encroach upon their lands. Nokor Wat

“If they measure 30 metres from the track, we totally disagree with them. And this morning, we had a meeting and asked for the expansion of the road to be just 10 metres because the road is not badly needed,” she said. “If they measure just 10 metres on each side, the impact will be minimal.”

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

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

Prach Seyha, Deputy Governor of Russey Keo district, said that based on a sub-decree, the road would be expanded by 30 metres on each side of the track, and noted that officials were collecting data on the number of affected people yesterday.

“For this survey, we will not implement it right away. We are waiting for the decision from the Phnom Penh governor who’s trying to compromise and solve the problem” Mr Seyha said. “But we just wanted to know how many families will be affected by expansion to 30 metres.”

“We want the people to take part. We do not prevent them from protesting. They still have the rights to protest, but the authorities just came to measure to get accurate data,” he added.

On March 5, some 300 people affected by the development gathered in front of Russey Keo District Hall to demand the authorities not to expand the road, which would affect their land and their homes.

However, authorities expect the new road will help alleviate traffic congestion on nearby National Road 5.

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