Poipet families told to make way for train

Shane Worrell and Phak Seangly, Phnom Penh Post, 18 July. 2012

Families living along a planned national train route in Poipet town were told they have 10 days to vacate their properties or be forcibly evicted, residents and NGOs said yesterday.

Eang Vuthy, legal officer for Equitable Cambodia, said an eviction notice from the Poipet City Hall warned of destruction if the families, in Banteay Meanchey province, did not re­move their houses and other structures from the land.

“The last sentence mentions that if they miss the deadline, City Hall will take firm action according to the law and will not be responsible for damage and loss,” Vuthy said. “[Families] are very scared because … they thought they would have the chance to negotiate,” he said.

About 700 families have moved from the area in Poipet town to make way for the Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project, which involves the government and is funded mainly by the Asian Development Bank and the Australian government’s AusAID.

This notice, Vuthy said, contradicted ADB’s Office of the Special Project Facilitator, which had forsworn forced evictions.

Resident An Theth, 42, said he is yet to be compensated.

“I will not move out if I do not get compensation,” he said.

Provincial hall spokesman Uk Keo Rattanak said, however, that every affected family had received compensation.

“It is their obligation to leave there,” he said, adding that he didn’t expect forced evictions.

ADB said it believed the notice was for families who had built in the area after a cut-off date.

“The notice was not sent to households within the Poipet station whose structures are totally affected,” it said.