The coming sprawls of Phnom Penh’s new satellite cities will bring about not only opportunities but also challenges for the population.
“Any urban area has to sprawl outside the main city areas so that it can keep up with the increasing demand of commercial land,” said Chrek Soknim, deputy director at Vtrust Property Co.
He said the prices of land in the busy central parts of Phnom Penh are increasing from year to year, and some of the residents have sold their land and moved to suburban areas where housing prices are much lower. They can use their savings from the selling for their businesses or other purposes.
The expansion of the urban area is an organic process, and this results in an easing of heavy traffic to the main city because of the relocation of some of the population into the other areas. This makes traffic in the central areas less severe.
Soknim said once a satellite city is built, it will also establish infrastructures and important facilities that ease the lives of the people there. “People will move from the central areas into that place and open up businesses that complement one another there,” he said.
Some of the middle and lower class population could move to the new areas because they think the places are good to live, while they also spend less.
They could have more opportunities to generate good incomes, compared to the central locations of the urban area proper, said Soknim.
The expansion of the central city to the outskirts of Phnom Penh can also be a good solution to the rising population. The latest data obtained from Phnom Penh City Hall shows the current population is about 1.6 million, growing from 1.4 million in 2008, while other sources indicate more than 2.2 million people in the city in 2012.
Soknim said the central areas of Phnom Penh can’t accommodate all the inhabitants. “Relocating to the satellite cities is the way out to ease the state of an overcrowded population,” he said.
However, the establishment of satellite cities could take tens of years.
Some satellite city projects, such as Diamond Island and Camko City have come to a sort of shape, and they could be very successful. They have not been fully occupied by the residents, but they are attracting some people to move in.
However, experts say it is difficult to get access to amenities and facilities. People like to have amenities and facilities in place because travelling in a long distance to have those services is annoying for them.
But Soknim said “the trend of the population’s preferences towards relocating to the satellite cities is looming in the horizon.”
Soknim of Vtrust maintains that it could take between seven and 10 years for a satellite city to be fully occupied.
“As we see with Toul Sangker,” said Soknim, “immediately after its completion in 2000, not many people lived there, but now it’s a decade later and the block is full of residents.”
Some other projects like Boeung Kak Lake and Chroy Changva City that are expected to be complete sometime in the future should experience the same growth.
Satellite cities are growing quickly. The government approved $2.1 billion of construction projects in 2012, while it was only $1.2 billion in 2011, data from the Ministry Of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction shows.