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Committee to decide site of new Phnom Penh airport

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The Cambodian government has decided to form a committee to organise the site of the construction project for a new international airport. CAMBODIA ANGKOR AIR

Committee to decide site of new Phnom Penh airport

The government has announced it will form a committee in preparation for the construction of a new international airport in Kandal province, a step forward in the project following the government’s approval of Cambodia Airport Investment Co Ltd’s proposal in December 2017.

According to the government’s letter, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara is appointed as committee chairman and Mao Havanall, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) minister, is vice-chairman. The committee consists of 21 members, with Kandal provincial governor Mao Phirun the sole permanent member.

The letter did not specify the exact location of the new airport, but committee members on Thursday confirmed that the location is likely Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district, where the government on December 2017 approved an investment proposal from Cambodia Airport Investment to build a $1.5 billion 2,600ha airport.

Cambodia Airport Investment is a joint venture between local conglomerate Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) and the Cambodian state-owned SSCA. OCIC will own 90 per cent of the shares with the rest going to SSCA.

Committee functions include inspection and determination of the new airport’s location site, land price evaluation, land issue settlement facilitation and coordination with relevant ministries to implement the project.

Other duties include recommending the company to fill out various forms to meet project implementation requirements, reviewing and commenting on the project’s master plan, as well as other suggestions of the company.

Committee chairman Chea Sophara and ministry spokesman Seng Lot, who is also a committee member, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Possible land disputes?

An SSCA official who asked not to be named on Thursday said among many issues, the committee was formed with the priority of dealing with land issues.

He added that after news about the development of the new airport was released early last year, people encroached on the land, while others bought land nearby in speculation of a price hike, hindering the project’s implementation.

“It could become a sensitive issue. The committee needs to be formed to solve land issues,” he said.

Kandal provincial governor Phirun on Thursday said the plan for Kandal Stung district’s 2,600ha airport is in part state-owned, company-owned and owned by individuals. Admitting that there were land dispute issues, he said they were not a major issue.

“The project’s implementation will not see any serious issues relating to land disputes because we have dealt with almost all of the big issues,” Phirun told The Post on Thursday.

“The authorities’ duties are to facilitate and help in the preparation of the regulatory framework and provide comments for the company and citizens to successfully start off the project.”

Phirun could not give an estimate of the project’s duration, but said the committee chair will organise a meeting after the committee’s formation. The action plan will then be defined through the government’s targets.

Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association president Chrek Soknim on Thursday said land at the project site is mostly unused land or lake area. He added that land prices have been gradually increasing since last year after news related to the new airport was released.

“If the project of this new airport materialises, land prices will increase further,” he said.

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