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Work on $5 billion tourism project begins

CONSTRUCTION has begun at a much-touted US$5 billion Chinese tourism development project in Koh Kong, according to government officials.

Sun Dara, deputy governor of Koh Kong province, said yesterday that the Chinese Union Development Group Co, which saw its investment approved by the government in early 2009, began building last month.

The project, which covers 36,000 hectares of land in Botum Sakor and Kiri Sakor districts, consists of five developments, including an airport, a port, a golf course, an eco-tourism site and a large commercial area with residential living, hotels, restaurants and retail stores.

“They have started building a port and roads, and they are preparing the infrastructure to build a residential building and office building in Kiri Sakor district,” Sun Dara said.

“We are very happy that they are investing in the tourism sector. It will create more jobs for the locals and boost the provincial economy.”

Lao Tip Seiha, Ministry of Land Management construction department director, said the technical plans for the residential and office buildings were still pending construction approval, which would come “as soon as possible”. A land dispute surrounding the project, officials said, was close to being resolved.

Cheng Che, governor of Kiri Sakor district, said yesterday that in Kiri Sakor district, seven villages with 600 families were affected by the development but that the company was close to resolving compensation.

“There are more than 20 families [for whom compensation for their land] is still unresolved because they are asking for higher costs following market prices,” he said.

Union Development Group managing director, Ji Jian Hua, could not be reached for comment, and the head of marketing, Wang Chao, declined to confirm any information.

Sun Dara said the company had allowed for up to 25 years for the development’s completion, but he doubted it would take that long.

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