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Resident Protest Causes Halt in Lake Filling

A Phnom Penh development company ceased filling Boeung Kak lake on Friday, following a protest of hundreds of lakeside residents in front of its office.

Protesters requested that Shukaku, Inc., stop filling the lake and resume direct discussion with residents over compensation costs for leaving the area.

More than 300 protesters staid in front of the Shukaku office, on the east side of the lake, for two hours Friday morning, before the company shut off a fill pump that had been throwing mud and water from the bottom of the Tonle Sap into the lake since last week.

The pump was still shut down Friday afternoon.

The protesters had two demands Friday: that the pump be shut off and that they have direct talks with authorities and Shukaku.

Sok Sambath, governor of Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district, and Chan Na, a Shukaku representative, told representatives of the protesters in a meeting Friday they would agree to temporarily stop filling the lake, until a resolution can be found with residents.

"We will forward your proposal to the government for discussion," Sok Sambath said.

Boeung Kak lake has been slated for development under a 99-year, $79 million lease between the city and Shukaku, but residents have proven reluctant to take a city buyout of $8,000 per home.

The development would include residential and commercial properties, as well as a hospital and university and other businesses.

"We agreed to accept the results of the first step, but we have not reached our request yet," said Be Pharum, a representative of the protesters said following the meeting. "We must wait for the final resolution."

Other residents warned they would continue to protest if their demands for a larger compensation package fail.