The people living along the railroad have been asked to move seven meters away from the tracks, according to an article from the Phnom Penh Post on 16 of June 2016. The Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the city hall to evaluate the railway from Beong Kak to National Road 5 and develop a new track connection.
Knowing that hundreds of residents are still living alongside of the railroad, Pa Socheatvong, the Phnom Penh governor posted on his official Facebook page in June that 5.62 Kilometers of tracks will be developed from National Road 5 to Beong Kak.
This development does not impress the residents who have been living there for many years and they are concerned about where they will go. Some people were willing to express about their feelings of moving out of the location, some did not say anything, some said they were afraid to speak out because they were poor and they had no power compared to the authorities.
A 37-year-old tuk-tuk driver held his 3-year-old daughter’s hand and spoke with a sad look in his eyes. Without giving his name he explained that he has been living in the place for 19 years he has no right to own the land and he does not know where to go. His wife sells groceries to the railroad people. He added that the land belongs to the government and they can force him to leave at anytime. His simple house is made of wood and is located about three meters away from the track.
Further more, the majority of those living along the railway are poor individuals, many of whom moved from the countryside into the city in search of jobs. A number of them sell shellfish during the dry season, and snails during the rainy season. Their income is very low so they cannot afford to buy land or to rent an apartment in the city. Additionally, they do not own land in the countryside or their hometowns.
Development is usually a sign of an effort to improve conditions in a country; for example, the government plans renovating a railway that has not been used in years. But what of the people who live along the railway? What does the government plan to do with them? Will they be provided with a place to live once they are evicted from the railway?
As a Cambodian, I am pleased to see the new development of the railway, but I would be happier if the people who live along the railway were given a proper place to live, especially as the community is largely made up of children and teenagers. They are the younger generation and the future of our country; we will need them if we hope to achieve a better, safer, and more prosperous Cambodia.