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Illegal roadblock row rumbles on

Source: KhmerTimes

A coalition of central and local government officials yesterday bulldozed an illegally built fence blocking a public road.
The move came after 127 families affected by the road blockage complained that two companies built the fence without permission in August last year.
The firms blamed are Phan Imex Development Company and Heng Ly Company, which are owned by tycoons Suy Sophan and Oknha Heng Ly.
Land Ministry officials and local authorities yesterday destroyed the part of the fence blocking Road 369, which connects to National Road 1

in Chbar Ampov district, Phnom Penh.
But the gap in the fence was later closed again after private security guards claimed people were trying to grab privately owned land.
An order from Land Management Minister Chea Sophara last month instructed the companies to open the road for public use, restoring it to a width of 16 metres, to allow vehicles to pass.
The road is in an area at the centre of a land dispute between Phan Imex owner Ms Sophan and locals.
Residents say Phan Imex breached a contract and designated a public road, villagers’ land and natural lakes as its own property. The company allegedly used bulldozers to clear land and start construction without permission.
Villagers also accuse the company of conspiring with government officials to make fake land titles and falsify documents.
Pen Chansokkemra, inspector-general at the Land Management Ministry, said the road must be accessible to locals so they can access public services.
He said: “Everyone should be able to travel through that area freely. After that, we will work to resolve land disputes there.”
Ms Sophan said she was happy for the road to be opened, saying it would improve access to the land she purchased in the area in 1991.
She said she would resolve the land dispute through the law, adding that she had titles to prove her ownership.
After learning the fence had been closed again by the companies, municipal land management director Sarin Sovanna said a working group would continue to discuss solutions to the issue and would reopen the road soon.
Chbar Ampov district deputy governor Nop Pha said people would be delighted to be able to use their old road again.

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