Railway evictees seek ADB aid

Khouth Sophak Chakrya , Phnom Penh Post, April.03  2012

Families forced to move by the rehabilitation of the Phnom Penh stretch of the national railway petitioned the Asian Development Bank yesterday for help with their livelihoods.


About 50 people gathered outside the ADB’s office to submit a petition representing more than 160 families relocated to Por Senchey district’s Trapaing Anchang village.Addressed to ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda, it asks for his intervention in creating jobs, providing more compensation and developing infrastructure at the relocation site.The complaint adds to the woes of the US$143 million rehabilitation project that has been beset by delays and cries of inadequate compensation.Villager representative Ros Bopha, 33, said they had been relocated from Tuol Sangke and Kilometre 6 communes in Russei Keo district on March 6.Promises from the authorities and the ADB had led villagers to expect an improvement in living conditions, but this had not happened, she said.

“Our living conditions are getting worse and worse, so a number of families have mortgaged their land certificates to build houses and to survive, as they are still unemployed,” she added.

Sok Lang, 46, said she had lost her job as a porter in a food warehouse since the relocation site was too far away, and was now in danger of losing her property due to debt.

Por Senchey district deputy governor Hem Narith, who supervised the filing of the petition along with 50 policemen, asked representatives to write to local authorities for help.

Eang Vuthy, Development Watch program manager at Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said the NGO had alerted the ADB of Trapaing Anchang’s inadequacies in 2010, when it was about to be approved as a resettlement site.

“The people [villagers] were living in the city; then they were resettled in the countryside 25 kilometres away. They will be losing jobs and access to public services,” he said.

An ADB spokesperson said by email that it had received the petition and was reviewing “the issues raised in the complaint”. The government had selected relocation sites based on criteria agreed on with the ADB, added the spokesperson.

The ADB’s resettlement plan for the Phnom Penh section, released on June 2010, states that “no large land was available around the affected area and the price of land in Phnom Penh urban area was too high around the affected areas”.

It notes the site is “located at least 15km from the centre of the city” and was chosen due to the presence of nearby services and the availability and affordability of land.