TWENTY-SEVEN communes in Kandal province are to become part of the Phnom Penh municipality in what government officials say is an effort to better control increasing sprawl from the centre of the city.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said the move to bring the Kandal land under the control of City Hall would streamline urban planning efforts and simplify zoning issues in the area as the territory around Phnom Penh becomes increasingly urbanised.
“The city is expanding so fast that some places that used to be farming places have become commercial centres,” Phay Siphan said.
Local officials in the affected territory, Phay Siphan said, would remain in their previous positions but would report to City Hall rather than Kandal provincial officials.
Kandal provincial governor Chhun Sirun said the decision would be formalised in a transfer ceremony next week. He said he could not recall all districts in Kandal that would be affected, but that they included Ponhea Leu, Kandal Stung, Muk Kampoul and Ang Snuol.
Phay Siphan said he, too, was unsure which districts would be affected.
“This decision will improve urban development and administration in these areas,” Chhun Sirun said. “It is a national decision for better development.”
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said he supported the forward-looking approach to urban expansion, but emphasise the importance of ensuring a smooth transition for villagers in the affected areas in terms of issues such as taxation and property rights.
“We welcome the expansion of Phnom Penh and the improvement of its infrastructure, but it should not come at the expense of underserved areas of the city that so far have been ignored,” Yim Sovann said.
Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema declined to comment yesterday. So Phanara, director of the Phnom Penh administration bureau, said yesterday that he had yet to receive any information about the land transfer.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE