HomeBlogsMaking Promises – Keeping Promises: Visiting a relocation place close to Phnom Penh City

Making Promises – Keeping Promises: Visiting a relocation place close to Phnom Penh City

In early July 2017, HRTF conducted a visit to a relocation place, which is located at the far end of Phnom Penh City, making it very difficult for the residents to keep up with their daily work. This conglomerate congregation is living together on thigh space, without a working infrastructure, such as the existence of a hospital or a school. When each one of the scattered communities where approached by the government, they weren´t given any due notice or the possibility to challenge the court’s decision to evict them, but they were given a promise in the form a contract. A promise to live a better live in a safe and developed environment, with access to health care, education, a public space to exercise as well as the possibility to maintain their employment. 


But on visiting the congregation, the people seem nervous and rebellious. The promise once made haven´t been kept. There is no school, no hospital and the public green was eroded in order to create a market space. But the reason for the uprising is the fact that the only bus station, and hence the only possibility for some of the residents to access the city, is about to be replaced, leaving the group with no possibility to trade in goods outside of the relocation area. Moreover, a big issue is the fact that the marketplace, which should be reserved for the usage of the venders, was sold to a private company which demands unaffordable prices for renting the market space. But the people also seem very excited. The deputy governor is coming and he might bring the long-awaited change. 


Some of the communities where relocated here about ten years ago, living all this time in conditions that where in clear violation of the contract agreed upon by the communities and the government. It should be noted that the relocation of groups to a place that has no infrastructure is as such prohibited under international law , making the violation of the agreement between the government and the affected communities an additional violation of civil law. 


Upon the arrival of the deputy governor, who drove up accompanied by a bus of employees, the representatives of the communities stated their case, explaining the committed violations, the need for a bus station, a school as well as other issues related to the sake of the group, such as the fact that a high crime rate and unrest are unavoidable when different communities are brought together without an allocation plan for the distribution of housing space and without the necessary resources to elevate a new community spirit. 

After hearing what the representatives of the communities had to say, the group is pleased to hear that the deputy governor wants to visit the place to get more information on how to improve the living conditions and receives great praise at his words “I want to be a hero of the poor people.” The deputy governor takes his time in inspecting the whole surrounding and leaves a lot of promises behind, stating that he will abandon the project of replacing the bus station, and also wants to reduce the costs of public transfer into the city. Moreover, he wants to establish a police station, rename the market as a public space and clean the public area in front of the bus station.


After the deputy governor drives away, the people are left with the hope that the deputy governor will keep his promises, and that 10 years of being let down by the government finally come to an end. HRTF will follow up on this case, and shares the hopes of the people that the deputy governor will keep his word.


Article by Marit Alex

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