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Families near airport push for land titles

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Representatives of the families on the edge of the airport land. Supplied

About 600 families living next to Phnom Penh International Airport urged the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) yesterday to help speed up the process of giving them titles to their land.
While submitting a petition to the SSCA yesterday, resident representative Chray Nim said the Land Management Ministry could not give residents their land titles before receiving location plans from the secretariat.
Ms. Nim, representing those living in Por Senchey district’s Kakap commune, explained that residents were anxious about the delay as they feared that living without land titles makes them vulnerable to land grabs.
“We will wait and see if the secretariat will still prolong the process and until then, we will continue to protest,” she said.
“We won’t let this go on until after the elections. If our people have yet to receive the titles, we still fear eviction and one day, our land may be taken away for some sort of development. We don’t know.
“As we already know, the local people are never consulted when there is a new development.”
The SSCA, however, denied the residents’ claims, saying it had already handed over the location plans to the Land Management Ministry.
“I forwarded the petition to His Excellency Secretary of State already and he is assigning expert officers to prepare it for them,” the SSCA’s cabinet officer Long Chheng said.
Land management ministry spokesperson Seng Lout also alluded to the fact that it had yet to receive the local plans, but added that it will examine the residents’ land titles once it received the relevant documents from the secretariat.
“The ministry will register the land and issue the land titles to the people as long as they have proper documents and are actually residing in that area,” he said.
Last March, Prime Minister Hun Sen assured the public that while it was expanding the Phnom Penh International Airport, those living within its vicinity would not be affected and would be allowed to continue living there without fear of eviction.
On December 21, the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee in charge of resolving land disputes in areas surrounding the airport urged the SSCA to hand over the location plans to the ministry to ensure that residents in the five affected communities – Trapaing Lvea, Kauk Chambak, Thmor Kaul, Ta Ngoun and Chrey Chisak villages – received their land titles. He also urged the secretariat to include information about the limitation on the height of buildings surrounding the airport.
The next day, he sent a separate letter to the Economy and Finance Ministry, saying residents should be exempt from paying land taxes between 2012 and 2016.

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