New Round of Airport Compensation Meets Resistance

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Kandal villagers are blocked by security personnel as they protest the construction of a new airport for Phnom Penh on September 7, 2021. (Mech Dara/VOD)

The new Phnom Penh International Airport project is undertaking surveys of more properties in Kandal for eviction and compensation, but residents say few are cooperating amid an increasingly disputed development.

Sixty-six houses are marked for measurement to make way for the airport construction, according to a letter issued by the Kandal Stung district governor. The survey would collect data on affected families in preparation for compensation, it said.

“The Kandal Stung district administration strongly hopes that the 66 [owners] in Kampong Ta Long village, Boeng Khyang commune, Kandal Stung district affected by the construction of the new Phnom Penh International Airport will cooperate with the working group that supports the construction of the new Phnom Penh International Airport to be successful,” the letter said.

A previous round of compensation for nearby farmland on the airport site has been met with protest, roadblocks and arrests as farmers refused the government’s offer — saying it was too far below market prices — but heavy machinery began clearing the land anyway.

Phat Sok, whose farmland was part of the previous compensation attempts and whose house is just outside the 66 being surveyed, said local authorities held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the survey, but only three households had agreed to it.

Those were the only families who had agreed to take compensation, Sok said. Others were distrustful as the dispute over the farmland was not resolved.

“This morning, they cannot do it since our people do not allow them to measure and assess,” he said.

He had been told that fencing materials, sizes of trees and other features of families’ properties would be considered for compensation amounts..

“According to the law, yes, they have to do this, but I do not think that they will compensate us, and this is just their trick,” Sok said. “They might fake it and tell the leaders that people are taking the compensation.”

“It is unreasonable since they have not compensated us for our farmland yet. How can they come to compensate us for our houses?”

Commune chief Nay Chandy did not directly answer questions about residents’ resistance to the surveying.

“Some of our people demanded to have a meeting and discussion to disseminate about this,” Chandy said.

The airport project, a joint venture between tycoon Pung Khiev Se’s Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation and the state civil aviation body, received 2,600 hectares of state land and has been scheduled to be completed in 2023.


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