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Weigh Needs of Residents on Lake: Guest

The government should work hard to ensure it is considering the needs of residents as it seeks to develop and improve Phnom Penh, a representative of a "housing rights" task force said Thursday.

Phnom Penh is enjoying a development boom, leading to a steady climb in property prices, but many residents say they are caught between government policies to develop and the need for fair prices for moving.

"Take Boeung Kak lake for an example," said Phann Sitha, coordinator for the Housing Rights Task Force, on "Hello VOA" Thursday. "The average income of the residents is at least $10 dollars a day. So when people heard that the area would be developed, they stood to lose that much money in income. Therefore I urge the government to make sure that after the development of the area, the residents will be able to make at least the same amount of money, if not more."

Boeung Kak residents told VOA Khmer in recent weeks they were not being paid a fair market price for their homes, which must be removed in a city development plan.

The city government has offered a regulated buy-out, but residents say this is far too low, and they fear they will be forcibly evicted following general elections in July.

Many Boeung Kak residents have lived around the lake since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, and some actually lived there under the regime, said Soeng Bunna, president and CEO of Bunna Reality Group, another guest on "Hello VOA" Thursday.

Some of them, however, just moved in, he said.

"I don’t have the specific number, but I know that some people have just moved to Boeung Kak in the last few years," he said. "Irregardless, it's up to the government, the development company and the people to talk about a specific amount of money the residents should be compensated. I understand that sometimes the area is very hard to develop and therefore the developer has to spend a lot of money."

The city has leased 133 hectares of land around the lake to Shukaku, Inc., in a 99-year-lease worth $79 million.