Squatters’ makeshift cottages dismantled

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Authorities dismantled makeshift cottages belonging to seven families alleged to have been built on state-owned concession land on Wednesday. Supplied

Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district authorities on Wednesday dismantled makeshift cottages belonging to seven families alleged to have been built on state-owned concession land.

District governor Chea Pisey told The Post that his team had used a set of machinery to remove the wooden structures which occupied a plot of lakeside land in Tuol Sangke II commune, on the order of Khuong Sreng, the municipal governor.

The dismantled 11 zinc-roofed structures were reportedly owned by seven families, whom authorities accused of grabbing state-owned concession land and deliberately building the cottages.

“For now they have agreed to leave the premises and have their cottages dismantled without protesting,” he said.

Tuol Sangke II commune police chief Keo Chantha said on Wednesday that the authorities have attempted to stop squatters from grabbing land in the area by giving them “warnings on several occasions”.

He said some of the squatters had dismantled their cottages on their own, while others had waited until the authorities took action.

“They have now left and nobody protested because they knew that they had committed unlawful activities,” Chantha stressed.

A Russey Keo district administration press release dated Tuesday said: “To protect the legal interest of residents who legitimately own land in the area, the district administration has no choice but to firmly implement such measure in order to prevent the movement from growing”.

“The district administration will take more action against stubborn people and those who do not learn their lessons or who cause public disorder, [such as] by sending their case to court to punish them according to the law,” it read.

A letter issued by Tuol Sangke II commune dated Sunday stated that after instructing the residents not to continue to break the laws, the authorities had also suspended the construction of the cottages of the seven families.

The representative of the seven families was identified as Phan Chet, 33; Tep Thida, 25; Ith Raveth, 57; Son Roeun, 57; Hoeun Borey, 33; Sok Savoeun, 49; and Ith Kanitha, 28, a letter dated Sunday issued by Tuol Sangke II commune administration read.

“The authorities have suspended the construction in the area and collected thumbprints of the seven individuals on the letter as evidence to guarantee they would not repeat similar actions,” the letter said.

The families, however, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.