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As City Measures Lake Land, Some Residents Fret

This photo taken July 11, 2011 shows an overview of Boeung Kak, Phnom Penh's largest lake full of sand where thousands of residents in the area face eviction. The World Bank on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, suspended further loans to Cambodia until its governmen

As Phnom Penh officials work to bring land titles to hundreds of people displaced by the Boeing Kak lake development project, representatives of at least 64 families said in recent interviews they are not being given what was promised.

Representatives of these families say that local authorities are not carrying out the duty assigned to them by a city, following an order from Prime Minsiter Hun Sen in August requiring land on the development site be set aside for them. They said they expected land titles, but are having difficulty getting them.

City officials, including Governor Kep Chuktema, declined to comment on the families’ allegations.

The 64 families are from four villages—nos 1, 6, 22 and 24. One of them, Ly Channary, 37, said she is among 18 families she knows of who expected 2.5 hectares of land, only to be cut out of the process by city officials so far.

“I was very happy to receive the decision from the prime minister,” she said, referring to his order to give more than 12 hectares of the 133-hectare site over to residents. “However, now I still have not received a land title. So I have concerns.”

Heng Sovan, a representative of Village 6, said authorities had measured his property there and given him a document to obtain a land title, but he so far yet to receive it.

“I request that all government institutions please examine the way of City Hall, because residents are not happy, and the solution is still unclear,” he said.

Sia Phearum, a representative of the Housing Rights Task Force, an advocacy group for the residents, said the organization was observing the land titling process from the “outside.”

Still, there appeared to be some families not receiving lands who were ready to make complaints, he said.

“This is still a problem for us,” he said. “So I think we need to strengthen our own ability to observe the dispute.”

Officials from the rights groups Licadho and Adhoc both said they were continuing to monitor the situation, which came to a head last month when, after years of protests by villagers, the World Bank threatened to withdraw funding to Cambodia if the dispute was not resolved.