City Hall announced Friday that the vast majority of remaining evictees from Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila neighborhood—who were left landless after a development firm failed to provide adequate housing for hundreds in the community—will not be rehoused in the area.
Mean Chanyada, Phnom Penh City Hall’s chief of administration, said that “resolutions” had been found in 154 out of 183 cases, of families who were evicted in 2012 and had proved their eligibility for replacement housing, but declined to reveal details at Friday’s press conference, instead pinning up documents outlining the decisions at the Prampi Makara district office.
According to the documents, 25 families will receive housing in Borei Keila while 89 who failed to “qualify” will be rehoused at the Andong community in Prek Pnov district’s Kouk Roka commune and 40 families will be offered an unspecified amount of compensation. Mr. Chandya said the remaining 29 claims belonged to families who had erroneously applied for housing twice.
A working group, which aimed to ascertain who moved to the site prior to 2003, included local authorities, former community members, police officials and representatives from Phanimex—the development company that purchased the land.
“Normally, people are not satisfied with the result immediately but we will continue to discuss with them,” said Mr. Chandya, adding that residents have until April 30 to file additional documents with authorities.
About 300 Borei Keila families were forcibly evicted from their homes in 2012 after the municipality handed the land to the well-connected Phanimex company, which promised to build 10 apartment blocks for 1,000 people from the original site. Phanimex only erected eight of the promised apartments, leaving some families landless. Some then set up makeshift tents at the site in squalid conditions without proper sanitation.
When a reporter attempted to ask a Phanimex representative Friday why the company failed to follow through on its promise to build the final two blocks, Mr. Chanyada interrupted.
“I answer on behalf of the working group because the company is an important part of the working group,” Mr. Chanyada said.
“You have to think about whether you qualify to get the housing or not. You shouldn’t care about eight buildings or 10 buildings.”
Chum Ngan, a prominent Borei Keila activist who was informed she would be relocated to Andong, called the decision “an injustice.”
“We lived here permanently and have certificates to prove we were living here before 2003, so why take us to live in Andong village?” Ms. Ngan said.
“It looks like a rented house for workers to live in, not like a family would live,” she added, vowing to protest against the decision.
Another resident, Chhay Kimhorn, voiced trepidation—despite being informed she could stay in Borei Keila—due to the already congested apartment blocks.
“I don’t know where I will get a house because from building one to building eight there is no empty space,” she said.