A total of 13 out of 14 families locked in a land dispute with the Union Development Group in Koh Kong province on Tuesday accepted a compensation offer over crops destroyed by the company in January. Negotiations are also under way with the one family that refused UDG’s offer.
According to the residents, in January a UDG representative brought along 60 security personnel to remove eight houses and destroy 26,000 crops on 46 hectares of disputed land.
A petition submitted to relevant ministries in March said that residents were demanding more than $240,000 in compensation.
Sem Thy, 52, a resident representative, said yesterday that Koh Kong provincial authorities met and coordinated with residents. UDG yesterday agreed to dispense $1,000 per family for the damaged crops.
However, Mr Thy said that only13 families had agreed on the amount. He noted that one family refused the company’s offer, citing the extensive damages to their crops.
Mr Thy added that regardless of the compensation, the land dispute is the real issue in the matter.
“Our people agreed to accept the compensation and they will give us the money on June 30,” he said. “But the land dispute is another matter because the issue is still in the hands of the Environment Ministry.”
He said that should the dispute go unresolved, residents will once again deliver a petition to the Land Management Ministry in Phnom Penh.
Sok Sothy, a Koh Kong deputy governor and the leader of a working team tasked with resolving the dispute, confirmed that all but one family accepted the compensation from UDG over the crops.
“Only 13 among 14 families accepted the compensation, the other family is still negotiating,” Mr Sothy said.
Regarding the land dispute itself, he said that the two parties must be patient while awaiting a decision by the ministry.
Kim Leng, a UDG representative, could not be reached for comment yesterday.