PP Post: Railway Evictees Step Up Fight

Chay Channyda, Phnom Penh Post, Apr. 9, 2012

Evictees of the national railway rehabilitation project are stepping up pressure on the Asian Development Bank, submitting a petition to the funder today about violence at the relocation site a week after a similar complaint on livelihoods was filed.

120409_06aEvictees strike in front of ADB in Phnom Penh. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

Ros Bopha, representative of about 160 families relocated to Por Sen Chey district’s Trapaing Anchang village, said clashes on Thursday between residents of the area and the evictees had injured nine – two seriously.

Village chief Chan Sinara had been angered when evictees invited doctors from rights group Licadho without informing him, she said.

He had banned the doctors from visiting villagers and used inappropriate words towards Ros Bopha, she added.

“That night he was drunk and holding an AK [47] rifle, threatening to shoot me at my house, but luckily, villagers sent me to hide.”

“I want ADB to know people living here are not provided with security and our living standard is worse [than at the original location],” she said.

The evictees also planned to lobby senior authorities to replace Chan Sinara as chief because he did not work on behalf of the villagers, she said.

Families displaced by the rehabilitation of the Phnom Penh portion of the beleaguered US$143 million project last week petitioned ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda for help creating jobs and developing infrastructure at the relocation site.

Chan Sinara could not be contacted yesterday but Ros Vanna, Trapaing Krasaing commune chief, said the dispute was a headache for local authorities.

“They [evictees] are newcomers and always make problems,” he said, before hanging up.

Authorities in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town issued a notice on March 27 giving those who lived on the tracks 10 days to move.

ADB officials could not be reached for comment yesterday, but an ADB spokesperson told the Post on Friday that areas designated for relocation would have adequate infrastructure.

“The plot of land will have basic amenities, such as access roads, water, electricity, latrine and sewage system with water and electricity connected free of charge,” the spokesperson said.