A joint team from the Preah Sihanouk provincial administration on August 25 issued a reminder to the residents of illegal huts built on private land in Otres commune’s village I of Stung Hav district to dismantle them, and warned of legal action against those who incited them to continue to occupy the land.
The provincial administration said in an August 26 social media post that their team had visited the site to make it clear to residents what was required of them. They were given the option of returning the land to the state, signing a contract and agreeing to return to their homes without protest. Most of the people there apologised to the provincial administration – and the land owner – for encroaching on the land, saying they had been cheated by brokers.
The villagers claimed that they had recently occupied the land after brokers told them they were allowed to live there. Some of them had paid from $200 to $300 for plots that measured 10m by 40m.
Other were not asked to pay – they just built their own huts and stayed, ready to protest, which was the brokers’ plan. They were told if they did not protest, the brokers would take the land back. It was only later that they realised they had been cheated.
The administration added that the majority of the structures had been built earlier this year. Most of the structures were erected when the authorities were busy with duties related to the commune council elections.
The instructions were originally issued on August 16, but not all residents had taken heed of the warning. Therefore, the administration renewed its calls for people to withdraw on a voluntary basis and avoid legal repercussions.
The provincial administration reiterated its stance. It will take the strictest action against those who provoke unrest by inciting people to build homes on land that belongs to someone else.