Evicted Island Businesses’ Deadline Extended

Saracen Bay businesses on Koh Rong Samloem that face eviction say they continue to wait for compensation, with some already relocating to the mainland as the deadline for relocation is extended
Saracen Bay businesses on Koh Rong Samloem. Kiripost/supplied
Saracen Bay businesses on Koh Rong Samloem. Kiripost/supplied

A Koh Rong Sanloem business owner in Saracen Bay said he has moved out of the bay without compensation saying that staying will not yield any victory, as authorities set a new deadline for eviction.

The deadline for the earmarked businesses to move to pave the way for development by two private companies has been extended multiple times.

The February 16 deadline has passed, with authorities now extending it to February 23.

In December, authorities announced that parts of Koh Rong Sanloem have been leased by the government to Emario Shonan Marine Corporation Ltd and Koh Rong Sanloem Island Resort Co., Ltd, to develop tourism-related projects.

The owner of Sky Beach resort, who asked to remain anonymous, said on Thursday that he decided to move out from Saracen Bay to Sihanoukville, despite not receiving compensation because he is not optimistic about a satisfactory solution.

“There is nothing happening now, but for me, I moved out because I don’t want to have a dispute with them, because I know that I can not win them. Some other resorts have not agreed to disassemble yet,” he told Kiripost.

He added that authorities will help pay for transportation fees.

Sar Sothara, the owner of Pipes Resort, said on Friday authorities had sprayed red paint on the resort’s buildings for the fourth time, stating people must disassemble​ before February 23.

“Yesterday, they walked into a resort and suddenly sprayed paint and said they will be notified till the 23rd… they just came and asked us the reasons why we haven’t moved out from here, then they sprayed,” he told Kiripost.

He said he is still waiting for a suitable solution with the two private companies and the government.

“I want to have a solution with the government and companies because disassembly is difficult. To be honest, due to the solid construction that is made of bricks, the authorities informed us rashly,” Sothara said. “There will be a lot of losses for us.”

Pipes Resort has existed on Koh Rong Saloeum for nearly eight years, with a total investment of approximately more than $400,000, he said.

“The companies never had negotiations with us and there is only one notice since 24th [January]. Authorities only told us to disassemble as the land has been given to other companies for concession already,” Sothara added.

Other business owners continue to wait for a decision over compensation. Eight resorts and restaurant owners have filed a request for negotiations between the companies and government since January.

Long Dimanche, Deputy Governor of Preah Sihanouk Province, had said earlier that there are two choices for business owners. They can acquire new land in a different area or they can ask the two private companies to continue the rent to them.

However, business owners have said that they had attempted to contact companies for negotiation but have still received no response or solutions.

“We used to talk with companies and they said they don’t have any solutions and don’t know anything. The main point is we depend on the authorities' solution only,” Sothara said.

He hopes the companies will allow business owners to continue renting on the same land where they currently are.

“If the companies can rent the same land area to business owners, I believe that they will be delighted to rent in the same location because disassembly is quite challenging for us and our construction [materials] definitely cannot be used again since it is made of wood and what we can get is only the air conditioners, water boiling machines and beds,” Sothara said.

There is a miscommunication gap between the companies, government and business owners regarding compensation for subtenants on the concession land, he said.

He added that when resort owners asked for compensation from the government, authorities referred them to ask the private companies to pursue renting. However, when the business owners asked for a solution from the private companies, they referred them back to the authorities.

Contacted on Friday, Dimanche referred questions to Ey Sokleng, the governor of Sihanoukville city Province, who could not be contacted.