THE RURAL view that Phnom Penh riverside strollers and restaurant-goers see
across the Tonle Sap will soon be a thing of the past.
In a move seen by
some as visual pollution of the environment, the OMC Company Ltd, which has the
Cambodia franchises for Suzuki and Sharp, is erecting two large billboards on
the Chruoy Changvar bank of the Tonle Sap to advertise its products.
billboards, on iron frames each 20 meters long and nine meters high, will block
the view of the village just north of Wat Saempou Trei Lak opposite Wat
They have been built near the dry-season bank of the Tonle Sap,
and when the river is in flood will be 200 meters from the rainy-season
But there is confusion at City Hall over just who has approved the
When the Post asked Phnom Penh Municipal Governor
Chea Sophara about their construction, he said OMC had permission only for the
temporary hoardings displayed for the three days of the Water Festival, and
denied they had permission for permanent billboards.
"They asked us to do
this, but those boards were only permitted for the Water Festival and are not
permanent," he said.
However Non Sameth, Deputy Chief of Cabinet of Phnom
Penh, said the city had indeed given OMC permission to build permanent
billboards and maintain them on a year-by-year contract, because the Phnom Penh
Municipality wanted to hide the squatter houses next to Wat Trei
When the Post suggested that some people regarded the billboards as
visual pollution, Sameth said: "We understand the [visual] pollution; we already
think ahead about this. But we also want to hide the squatters at the
He said only one company had asked permission to build
And he said the billboards would be removed eventually when
the city proceeded with its plans to develop the riverbank of the Chruoy
OMC's Administration Manager, Chhon Song Meng, agreed
that the billboards were permanent constructions but denied that the view of the
river would be adversely affected. That would happen only if other companies put
up more billboards, he said.
At the worksite itself, a construction
worker was more forthcoming. He said OMC had permission from the City Fathers to
maintain the billboards for three years. The Royal Palace had stipulated that no
hoardings could be built any further south than the two now built, but it was
conceivable that a line of billboards could run from these two all the way to
the Chrouy Changvar bridge.
He said that the frames were nine meters high
because when the river was in flood the first three meters would be under
One indignant inhabitant of Sisowath Quay said the view across the
Tonle Sap was unique, perhaps the only capital city in the world where
inhabitants and tourists could look across the river at a charming rural
By allowing the billboards, presumably for a few quick dollars, the
city was destroying that view.
"It's an exercise in vulgarity," he said.
"What is now unique will be rendered banal by day and a floodlit affront at