Villagers block a road in Kampong Speu province on Monday during a protest against quarry trucks using the road
3 Feb – A hundred people from 10 villages in Kampong Speu on Monday blocked a road to a mountain where construction supply companies operate rock quarries.
Villagers had complained for years that three companies damaged the road with their trucks but avoided paying compensation despite promises.
Two of the companies, HTTK and Khmer ISS, belong to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Hun To. The third is a Chinese company whose name the activists and local authorities said they didn’t know.
“We have been waiting for [them to keep] their promise but we don’t see them taking any action,” said Kong Sameurn, a farmer in Phnom Sruoch district.
The villagers requested that all three companies set a timetable to fix the road and pay compensation.
Hun To defended himself yesterday, saying his companies are just two out of six or seven that are active in the area.
“Do not blame me just because I have relatives or connections with the government,” he said. “My companies have the legal right to work here.”
Sam Tith Seyha, a human rights monitor for rights group LICADHO, said that villagers would continue to block the road until the companies agree to negotiate.
Previous complaints by villagers bore no results, “because the authorities have less power than the companies”, he said.