Long-time residents of state lands seek stability through land titles

People living in the community of Prek Ta Kong in Phnom Penh are concerned about the legal status of their homes as they live above sewer lines and have never received land titles, although some families have lived there since. 40 years.

The community, in the commune of Chak Angre Loeu in the Meanchey district of Phnom Penh, has 173 people including 67 families living at the top of the drainage systems of the village of Prek Ta Kong at 60 street.

The head of Chak Angre Loeu commune, Keo Savoeun, said yesterday that there are 67 households in the small community who are living illegally because the land belongs to the state, due to the 1.6 drainage pipes. meter below the ground.

“Please understand that they live on the state drainage system, so how can local authorities provide them with land titles? Whether they can get them in the future or not is not my decision, but is up to the government, ”Savoeun said.

He added: “Now they are staying temporarily, but if the government needed to develop or work on the sewers, their homes would have to be removed. “

“Prek Ta Kong was once a canal, with about six families living along it, but pipes were laid and the canals were slowly filled, with over 60 families settling on the land.”

Prek Ta Kong village chief Keam Sokha said he felt pity for locals seeking land titles. He said, “I want them to have land titles but I am not authorized to provide them.

He added that most of the locals are construction workers, garment factory workers or fishermen, and are not wealthy. “Sometimes they buy and sell their houses for between three and five thousand dollars, but the head of the commune does not accept the transactions because they are not the legal owners of the land,” he said.

A resident of Sao Sreymom said yesterday that residents feared they would be forced to evacuate their homes at any time.

“If we had land titles, we would feel safe here. We are afraid that one day we will all be forced to leave the community, so land titles are very important to us, ”Sreymom said.

Local man Nhel Veasna said most residents have faced difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the decline in available work. Another factor is the filling of the lake behind their homes, which limited the fish to catch, eat or sell.

“We are using the electricity from Electricité du Cambodge, but we cannot use the water from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority,” Veasna said, because the Water Supply Authority will not provide water. no pipes with irregular constructions like their houses.

His neighbors Mat Masitros and Ath Phearum said they were buying water from the private sector, at a price of one dollar per cubic meter.

Families in Prek Ta Kong say they have met with village and commune heads on several occasions, but local authorities cannot offer solutions and can only pass residents’ requests on to higher-level officials.

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