Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dey Krahorm Lottery Getting Mixed Reviews

Current unhealthy living condition for renters of Dey Kraham

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pin Sisovann and Jason McBride

On Aug 5, about 344 families picked lucky numbers to win new homes in Dangkao district's Choam Chao commune.

In exchange for abandoning their homes on land in Tonle Bassac commune—where thousands of families have already faced eviction by Phnom Penh municipality—they agreed to let the luck of the draw decide where they would live next.

The families entered a raffle for what will eventually be a complex of 2,000 brick apartments linked in a series of uniform rows and built by 7 NG Construction Company Ltd, which is trying to obtain all the land on which the 1,465 families of Dey Krahorm neighborhood currently live.

The plan is to reserve around 1,470 of these apartments for Dey Krahorm families and sell the others, said Srey Sothea, an adviser to 7 NG's management.

About 380 apartments have been built so far and the entire project should be completed next year, he said.

Since the Aug 5 draw, all 344 families have moved away from Tonle Bassac and many have moved into their new homes. Most of the families who have moved to the new development, called Borey Santepheap II, located some 20 km outside the city, said last week that their accommodation is far superior to the makeshift homes they had in Dey Krahorm.

Sou Phen, a 52-year-old mobile street vendor, said she likes her new apartment but she can't find any customers for her sweets and snacks.

"Living here is safer than living in [Dey Krahorm] because living there you couldn't sleep well because you worried about fires. But now we worry about jobs," she said.

Equipped with running water and electricity, the apartments are a far cry from the plots of barren land offered to thousands of families forcefully evicted in May and June from Village 14. Located across the street from the Dey Krahorm neighborhood, Village 14 was acquired by Suor Srun company.

But not all residents of the Dey Krahorm neighborhood have welcomed the lottery system, and some accused local leaders of embarking on the home raffle venture for personal gain, saying that they were tricked into thumbprinting documents authorizing the move.

A lack of participation in the raffle by residents prompted the authorities to cancel a July 14 lottery. The Aug 5 lottery was only held for residents of Dey Krahorm who agreed to it, community chief Kim Yan said Monday.

"If they don't want to go, we will call them to a meeting and persuade them to understand," community chief Phan Narin said, referring to the 170 families he said have not agreed to move and have mounted noisy demonstrations.

Human rights workers and staff at the Public Interest Legal Aid Project which has provided legal assistance to people facing eviction, said they could not verify the number of families volunteering to leave Dey Krahorm and the number that wished to remain.

Villagers who are resisting the eviction say they want cash for their land, not a small apartment in a remote area. Those refusing to leave also claim that only 800 families live in Dey Krahorm and allege that local authorities have vastly inflated the village's population in order to reduce the bargaining power of the actual inhabitants.

PILAP lawyer Eang Sopheak said that the estimates given by local authorities for the population of sites facing eviction were usually inflated in order to allow others to receive compensation that they did not deserve.

"The figures from authorities are hard to believe," he said. "People protest everywhere because of the inflated figures."

Motorbike taxi driver Keo Buntheun said he agreed to move to his new apartment but cannot earn a living at Borey Santepheap II.

He hopes now that his former neighbors will follow and that more families will move into the new community.

"When more people come, if there's a market here, we can set up a grocery shop, or sell something in front of the house," he said.

The next raffle to assign homes is scheduled for October, Phan Narin said.


volB-KK@ said...

Sorry, how do u add the "read more" button. Could you tell me the code?

Anonymous said...

To volb-kk

Look at the hack on the link below and you'll find the answer to your question:

Good luck!