Eleven families locked in a land dispute with two sugarcane plantation companies in Koh Kong province returned yesterday to the Ministry of Land Management, asking it to work out compensation for them as it did for other villagers.
On March 22, an inter-ministerial working team led by Land Management Minister Chea Sophara and representatives of Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co, Ltd and Koh Kong Plantation Co, Ltd agreed to carve out more than 800 hectares of land for two groups of residents, ending a decade-long land dispute with 375 families.
A total of 175 families were offered three hectares of land and $2,500 per family, and another 200 families received 1.5 hectares of land per family.
However, 11 out of those 175 families claimed that they did not receive the same compensation as the other families, while the ministry said they already received compensation.
Sam Viet, one of the 11 families in Sre Ambel district’s Chikhor Loeu commune, said that 16 families received compensation from $38 to $175 for three to four hectares of land, with five of those families received additional compensation on March 22.
“We received compensation, but we were forced to accept it. They said that whether or not we accepted the money, the land would be lost because it was occupied by the company to grow sugarcane,” Ms Viet said.
“So, I took the money and later we joined the protest with 175 families to ask for additional compensation, but the ministry did not solve it for us. It is very unfair for us.”
During the meeting on March 22, Mr Sophara said the ministry would not offer compensation to villagers who had already received it.
Seng Lot, spokesman for the Land Management Ministry, said the ministry received the petition and the working team would take a look at the case.
“The administration officials have already received it, and normally, each institution has its own procedure for working on this, so the working team will thoroughly review and submit to the leaders to check,” Mr Lot said.
Meanwhile, more than 100 families out of 316 families in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district were asked by commune authorities to register their names after they protested and demanded they be offered compensation like another group of residents who recently received compensation from the companies.
Kuch Sokunthy, one of the representatives, said the Dang Peng commune authority asked 110 families to register their names to collect data on how many people were affected by the land dispute.
However, they said they had already registered their land once with a group of 175 families in the past.
Ms Sokunthy said that villagers seemed to lose confidence in commune authorities finding a solution for them.
“We have already gone to register our names at the commune office, but we have no hope that they could solve it,” she said. “We appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen and ministries, especially the Ministry of Land Management, please speed up the resolution for us as soon as possible because we have no land and live in hunger.”