End to Koh Kong land dispute nears

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A rally at the Land Management Ministry in the capital. KT/Mai Vireak

The Land Management Ministry yesterday announced that 600 families in Koh Kong province locked in a land dispute with two major sugar companies will have their resolution by June 30.

The announcement came after Land Management Minister Chea Sophara met with representatives of 317 families from Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel and Botum Sakor districts yesterday after they came to the ministry to once again demand a resolution in their case against Koh Kong Sugar Industry and Koh Kong Plantation.

According to a ministry statement issued yesterday, measurement of land to be distributed to a total of 585 families is to be completed between June 20 and June 30.

“The working team is working to measure and distribute land to 200 families,” the statement said. “The team managed to divide and measure land to distribute to 175 families. The working team will continue to manage the allocation of land to another 317 families, 170 families and 98 families in order to end decades-long disputes.”

A Koh Kong villager protesting in Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

In March, the ministry, along with three other ministries and sugar company representatives, agreed to divide 800 hectares of land for two groups of villagers, ending a dispute with a group of 375 families from Koh Kong province.

However, a number of families were left out of the deal, prompting months-long protests at the Land Management Ministry in Phnom Penh.

Tep Thon, an undersecretary of state and head of the Land Management Ministry’s Working Group for Land Dispute Resolution, said that the 317 families will receive two hectares of land per family, along with financial compensation, but did not disclose the exact amount of money each family will get.

“The land and money can be used for their agricultural activities,” Mr Thon said.

Chim Srey Thoun, a representative of the 317 families, said that families will receive two hectares of land, along with about $3,000 per family.

She said that she is grateful to the ministry for helping resolve the problem, but will remain sceptical until the promises materialise.

“I do not have complete confidence yet,” Ms Srey Thoun said. “We’ll believe them 100 percent when we get our land and our money.”

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