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Preah Sihanouk to remove more than 1,000 shophouses for flood mitigation

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Sihanoukville authorities oversee the dismantling of a shophouse. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall will demolish more than 1,000 illegally built shophouses and homes along the banks of canals and on the sidewalks in Sihanoukville to facilitate flood mitigation projects.

Bou Vathana, deputy director of the provincial inter-sector department, said yesterday the authorities plan to widen the canals and tear down the shophouses and homes built on sections which have been earmarked for the projects.

“The projects will affect more than 1,000 homes, some of which will be completely demolished while portions of others which encroach into the project sites will be removed,” he said. “About 300 homes are to be completely torn down.”

Mr Vathana said that provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun wanted to protect the city from flooding during heavy rains.

“We met the affected residents a month ago to explain the situation and will issue eviction letters before tearing down the houses of those who do not agree to move out on their own,” he added. “Those who have illegally built their houses along the canals have agreed to take down the structures on their own.”

Mr Vathana said Mr Chamroeun is looking into providing social land concessions to those who will be homeless or to those who are poor.

“We have thought about the impact. Unlike what some people say, we care about the difficulties which people are facing,” he added.

Mr Vathana said Provincial Hall believes that flooding in the city will be reduced once the canals are widened.

“If we do not upgrade the drainage system in Sihanoukville, the city will continue to face serious flooding,” he said. “We are not targeting legally built homes but only those in areas which have been measured by the land management officials and were found them to be illegal.”

Floods in the middle of last year inundated parts of Sihanoukville and the province’s Prey Nop district. Two people died and hundreds of homes were damaged.

An excavator demolishes shophouses on the bank of a canal in Sihanoukville. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Provincial Hall announced in August that it will repair and widen canals in the city to alleviate the damage caused by the floods.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in November announced the government will spend $170 million to also tackle waste disposal problems in the city, adding that the Chinese government donated $600 million for the purpose.

Last month local authorities began demolishing the homes of 29 families in the city’s Buon commune but the work was suspended, after seven houses were destroyed, due to strong protests from residents.

Mr Vathana said yesterday the authorities will resume the demolishing of the homes in the commune today after some residents agreed to remove their belongings from their houses.

A joint working group comprising Provincial Hall, land management department, city and commune officials yesterday demolished nearly 20 shophouses along a canal in the city’s Bei commune.

Toem Tevy, 35 who lost her seven metre by eight metre shophouse, said yesterday she is not going to protest against Provincial Hall’s action but urged the authorities to suspend the demolishing.

She said she bought the shophouse in 2005 and previous governors before Mr Chamroeun had allowed her family to stay there.

“I am not against Provincial Hall’s efforts to develop the city. I just want them to give us some compensation,” Ms Tevy said, adding that authorities gave her very short notice to move out.

Pon Sinat, 41, another resident, said yesterday he wants Provincial Hall to consider providing him with a social land concession to build a new house.

“I have lived here for almost 10 years and now they just came and destroyed my shophouse,” he said.

He agreed with Ms Tevy that Provincial Hall should provide social land concession to the residents in exchange for  leaving their homes.

“Our livelihoods are affected after we lost our shophouses,” Mr Sinat said. “I do not know where to go now.”

Cheap Sotheary, provincial coordinator for Adhoc who is monitoring the case, said yesterday that Provincial Hall should have found a solution for the residents first before demolishing their homes in order to avoid criticism from the public.

កម្ទេចសំណង់ខុសច្បាប់

អជ្ញាធរក្រុងព្រះសីហនុ កំពុងធ្វើការវាយកម្ទេចសំណង់ខុសច្បាប់ ស្ថិតនៅសង្កាត់លេខ ៣ ដែលត្រូវគេចោទប្រកាន់ថា បានសាងសង់នៅលើច្រាំងប្រឡាយបង្ហូរទឹក ជាហេតុបង្កជាទឹកជំនន់ដល់ទីប្រជុំជនក្រុង។KT/ ប៊ិន សុខហ៊ាន

Posted by ខ្មែរថាមស៍ – Khmer Times on Sunday, 2 February 2020

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