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Port in Kampot to turn province into regional trade hub

Kampot Port Co will break ground on a Kampot port in September, company officials said yesterday.

The port will be an important part of a long-delayed Kampot Special Economic Zone (KSEZ), which is hoped to revitalise trade and commerce in the province.

Vinh Huor, president of the KSEZ, said with the completion of the port, which is expected to take about 18 months, Kampot could become a transit hub for much of the country’s exports. He also downplayed one of the province’s current leading industry: tourism.

“When our site is finished, Kampot will become a big economic region and it will not be a tourism destination. It will become a commercial area and more transportation developments will be needed in the future,” Vinh Huor said. “The main purpose of the port is for freight transportation of minerals that will be transported abroad for processing. It’s going to be a big port.”

The total cost of the port will be about $18 million, he said. The economic zone is expected to cost $80 million.

The company has done about $25 million in road construction and landfilling in preparation for the economic zone, he said.

The KSEZ was originally slated for an early 2011 opening date, the Post reported.

Opposition to environmental damage created by construction, as well as a redrawing of master plans, has pushed the opening date back by several years.

Kampot governor Khoy Khun Huor said the opening of the zone will bring several different sectors to the region including heavy industry and rice milling.

“When it’s completed, it won’t only serve the Kampot economy, but it serve the whole country ... It will help to reduce poverty,” he said. “Kampot is a good location because it shares a border with Vietnam. It will bolster the economy in the region, and it will contribute to national economic growth.”

The governor projected swift growth for all sectors in the province, including tourism.

The Bokor Resort recently had its grand opening, although it’s not accepting guests yet.

The combination for tourism and other value-added industries should contribute to the general well-being of the region, he said.

Vinh Huor had told the Post that shoe and garment factories, a car tyre plant, a cassava processing plant, among other ventures, would take root in the KSEZ.

In September 2009, villagers who lived near the construction site protested against the project because they said it was killing off fish, the source of their livelihood.

During the same year, officials announced further delays but the cause of the near two-year delay was unknown.

A port in Kampot would also catch spillover from the Sihanoukville Port, the Kingdom’s only deepwater port, said Sin Chanthy, general secretary of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association and director general of Linehaul Express Co Ltd.

At present, the Sihanoukville Port does not have a big enough capacity for all the boats passing through it, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at ruey.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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