More than 30 people representing 316 families in four communes of Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district, who claim to have a land dispute with Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co, Ltd and Koh Kong Plantation Co, Ltd, gathered in front of the district hall yesterday demanding that authorities find a solution to their land dispute after nearly 400 families saw their land dispute resolved last week.
The protest took place after the Ministry of Land Management, relevant institutions and representative of the sugarcane plantation companies solved a land dispute for 375 families in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts on Thursday, in which 175 families received three hectares of land and $2,500 per family, while another 200 families received 1.5 hectares of land per family.
Kuch Sokun, a representative of the protesters, said there were more than 500 families affected by the land disputes with the two sugarcane companies.
However, the 316 families believed in local authorities who promised to resolve the land dispute for them, and did not protest like the 175 families who just received a resolution.
Ms Sokun added they had registered the land but had not yet received resolution or land titles, so they gathered to protest and demand that the district land management office resolve their dispute.
“It is unfair for us because our people have already registered the land, but we still haven’t gotten a resolution. We plan to ask for intervention from the national level if the district and province do not find a solution,” said Ms Sokun.
Chet Chom, one of the protesters, said the 316 families living in Sre Ambel district’s Dang Peng, Chik Leu, Chik Krom and Kandorl communes have land disputes with both companies on a land area of 1,383 hectares.
Sre Ambel district governor Toun Sela said that an inter-ministerial working team has in the past gone to collect the data of people that had land disputes with the two sugarcane plantation companies to assess how many people would get compensation.
He added that this land dispute case was beyond the jurisdiction of the district authority and would have to be resolved at the national level.
“If they want to protest, they should show the paperwork or identity card to show what the ministry has solved for them. If they have a certificate of land ownership or if it’s not recognized by the authorities, I will report it to the provincial governor for resolution,” said Mr Sela.
Tep Thon, undersecretary of state and head of the Land Management Ministry’s Working Group for Land Dispute Resolution, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A representative of Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co, Ltd and Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co, Ltd, owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat, said on Thursday that the companies had resolved all land disputes with residents.
On Thursday, the two sugarcane companies agreed with the government to carve out 825 hectares of land from their economic land concession in Sre Ambel district’s Chikhor Loeu commune, ending a decade-long land dispute with 375 families.