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Cambodia begins evicting floating homes amid protests

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PHNOM PENH: Cambodia‘s capital, Phnom Penh on Saturday started overseeing the dismantling of “floating dwelling” communities on the banks of the Tonle Sap River over the objections of longtime residents who say they’ve nowhere else to go.
For generations, the floating wood houseboats of Phnom Penh have been each livelihood and lifestyle for principally ethnic Vietnamese households, dwelling to fish farming and interconnected by warrens of hand-built bridges interspersed with sunken poles and small boats.
“Our ancestors have at all times been right here,” mentioned Kith Dong, 54, as he and family dismantled his dwelling consisting of a grayling timber platform with a sloped tin roof off the shore of Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district.
He mentioned the town order didn’t give his household sufficient time to relocate.
“In the event that they prolonged by a couple of extra months, we might have time to construct a house,” he mentioned.

Floating homes are seen on the Tonle Sap River in Prek Pnov district, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Image Credit score Reuters

The Phnom Penh Municipality says the communities quantity to floating slums which are eyesores and well being hazards, with trash baggage and uncooked sewage floating alongside the houseboats. Si Vutha, head of Prek Pnov district’s land administration workplace, oversaw the dismantling on Friday.
“There are 316 homes that now we have to evict right now. This actually impacts the fantastic thing about the town, the atmosphere. You sit on a ship, it smells very dangerous,” Si Vutha informed Reuters.
Si Vutha mentioned the evictions are meant to scrub up the capital forward of Phnom Penh’s internet hosting of the 2023 Southeast Asian Video games, because the newly constructed stadium is only some kilometers away.
“There are tons of of viruses right here, overseas vacationers come and see our nation like this?” he mentioned. However residents say the crackdown got here too quickly and questioned why they wanted to maneuver with the video games nonetheless greater than a 12 months away.
Si Vutha didn’t specify why the cleanup needed to come now, and Phnom Penh metropolis spokesperson Met Meas Pheakdey couldn’t be reached for touch upon Saturday.

Dang Van Chou demolishes his floating home on the Tonle Sap river after they had been ordered to go away inside one week of being notified by native authorities in Prek Pnov district, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 12, 2021.

Dang Van Chou, 57, moved to Cambodia greater than 20 years in the past from neighbouring Vietnam. His household makes a residing farming fish in enclosures off their dwelling, however this 12 months’s fish are too small to promote to lift cash for a transfer, he mentioned. “I do not know the place to go, I haven’t got any land,” he mentioned.

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