Phnom Penh airport railway project halted

Phnom Penh airport railway project halted

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) is shown his way by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe prior to their meeting at the state guesthouse in Tokyo on Aug 7. (Reuters photo)
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) is shown his way by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe prior to their meeting at the state guesthouse in Tokyo on Aug 7. (Reuters photo)

The Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transportation has announced a halt to a railway project meant to lead to Phnom Penh airport following multiple protests by local villagers.

Villagers of Por Sen Chey district have been protesting against the railway construction in their community over the past few weeks, burning tyres during some protests.

The villagers are fearful of evictions and upset that the government has not been more forthcoming about the project, which is being carried out by Royal Railways and is meant to make ferrying goods to the airport easier.

The ministry announced a halt to the construction following a meeting with villagers on Friday, the Khmer Times reported on Monday.

Undersecretary of state Ly Borin told residents that the construction of the railway from Taing Krosang Pagoda in Phnom Penh to the airport will not resume unless there is an agreement between locals and stakeholders.

“We will have a meeting to resolve this issue and see you again,” he told locals.

“For the construction, we have already asked the company to halt it so that we can find a solution that suits the ministry, the builders and the villagers.”

Last month, more than 100 residents protested against the project, burning tyres and demanding more information about the project, claiming they were not consulted.

Meng Kruy, a resident of Ka Kab commune, lauded the ministry’s decision to suspend construction.

“It is a great thing to stop construction and have a proper public forum about the project,” he said.

“I think everyone should be clear on what this project is all about and how it will affect neighbouring communities.”

Executive director of the Housing Rights Task Force Sia Phearum has expressed support for the project in the past but said the government had not taken the proper steps to inform residents and had now rectified its error.

“I think there should be dissemination to the people so they understand what the project is aiming to do,” he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen discussed the project during his meeting with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Aug 7 in Tokyo.

Hun Sen has said the light railway project would cost about US$800 million.

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