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Push for an end to sugarcane land row

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:

Koh Kong provincial authorities have urged 200 families involved in a decade-long land dispute with a sugar cane company to prepare evidence of their claims amid hopes of a final solution from the government.

Koh Kong deputy provincial governor Sun Dara said the dispute between Sre Ambel district residents, Koh Kong Sugar Industry and Koh Kong Plantation began in 2006.

Locals accuse the companies of taking almost 800 hectares of their farmland and are demanding compensation, plus a return of the land.

However, the companies say they had permission to take the plots, after being granted economic land concessions.

More than one thousand families have already settled claims for compensation with the firms, which have agreed to give back 300 hectares to the community, but a further 200 families are still seeking resolutions, while 500 families have filed a separate complaint.

Mr Dara said the affected families should prepare relevant documents to prove their occupancy of the land following a meeting on the issue yesterday. These documents would be handed to the central government for a solution.

“The complaint must contain documents relating to land occupation so the correct number of residents can get the rights to the land,” he said.

“We have to specify clearly who is affected to escalate this to the national level.”

Mr Dara has also called on representatives of the two sugar companies to prepare technical documents to identify the 300 hectares of land to be given back to the people.

Community representative Hean Cheav said the 200 families in his area can easily prove their right to the land.

“We have clear data. We would not file a complaint without it. We want a win-win solution and not to prolong the dispute because the companies have already agreed to give land back to the people,” he said.

However, representatives of the companies participating in the meeting were unable to confirm their stance, saying they had to check with their managers.

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Nheab Sam Oeun lauded action to finally settle the row.

“What we regret is that the dispute has been going on for  nearly 12 years. After these talks, we hope there will be clear action from the authorities and companies,” he said.

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