Evicted Island Businesses Start to Relocate

Businesses hit by evictions on Koh Rong Samloem’s Saracen Bay start to move off the island as tractors move in to pave the way for development
Properties on Saracen Bay painted in red notice ordering it to be dismantled. Kiripost/supplied
Properties on Saracen Bay painted in red notice ordering it to be dismantled. Kiripost/supplied

The owner of a resort being evicted from Koh Rong Samloem’s Saracen Bay said on Wednesday that he is preparing to leave the area, saying business has dried up and he has now received some compensation from authorities.

Sar Sothara, the owner of Pipes Resort, added that authorities have once again sprayed red paint on his resort, ordering it to be dismantled before March 5 – a further extension of the original deadline.

Some resort owners have already decided to move out from Saracen Bay without any compensation due to income challenges, while the remaining resorts on the land slated for development have also been sprayed with red paint.

“Now we don’t know how to solve this with authorities, and we don’t know what to do here,” Sothara told Kiripost.

He said that there is a lack of guests to stay at the resort, while red paint covers buildings as tractors start clearing the surrounding areas.

He added that he decided to move out from the island with a small amount of money from local authorities. However, he declined to reveal the amount.

“It is so silent here without guests. There is only one guest now because the tractors are clearing all over the place here and this makes them [tourists] scared, so they will not come here anymore,” he said.

He added, “We are dismantling now. We don’t know how to run the business here anymore since the government always states that it is the land of the state.”

There are only two resorts that remain on Saracen Bay, Sothara said, adding they are Sol Beach Resort and Moonlight Resort.

Pipe Resort was established in 2016 with a total investment of $400,000. It initially had 20 staff. However, due to Covid-19 and the recent forced eviction, business has not been good recently, Sothara said.

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.

Since then, eight resorts and restaurant owners have filed a request for negotiations between the companies and government.

On February 17, the owner of Sky Beach Resort moved out from his $200,000 resort without any compensation, besides transportation fees to deliver some items from the island to Sihanoukville city.

Kiripost was unable to contact the other two other resort owners on Saracen Bay on Wednesday.

Long Dimanche, Deputy Governor of Preah Sihanouk Province, referred questions to Ey Sokleng, the governor of Sihanoukville city Province, who also could not be contacted on Wednesday.