Cambodian tycoon Kith Meng’s Royal Group failed to persuade a high-level meeting of government and Preah Sihanouk officials to resume construction of a 40-metre port at Otres Beach, and will instead have to explore the use of other locations along the coastline.
The conglomerate, which was ordered on January 20 by the National Committee for Cambodia Coastal Management and Development to cease construction of the jetty for violating costal development guidelines and for lack of a permit, will now study the cost of temporarily using facilities at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port to assist its development activities on Koh Rong island.
“The result of the meeting was to explore the cost of using the some parts of Sihanoukville port to transport construction material to serve the Koh Rong development,” said Pen Sophal, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management.
The meeting, held on Friday, was attended by Minister of Land Management Im Chhum Lim, Tourism Minister Thong Khon, Council for Development of Cambodia’s secretary general Sok Chenda Sophea and other provincial officials.
Sophal added that it was suggested that Royal Group explore the possibility of using two other locations to build their port – Tomnop Roloak commune in Stung Hav district or Koh Preap near the international port.
“After the meeting, Royal Group will follow the government’s policy and will also seek new locations for construction of the port,” he added.
However, Sophal could not confirm who will be tasked with demolishing the existing port or if Royal Group would be liable for any monetary compensation.
Y Sokleng, city governor for Sihanoukville, said that while Royal Group was insistent on building the port at its current location, the national committee overlooking coastal management did not want any construction on Otres Beach.
He added that Prime Minister Hun Sen will now take a final decision of the conditions for Royal Group’s use of the international port, as well the conglomerate’s request to continue building the temporary port on Otres Beach.
“The committee has decided to not allow him to continue building the port, but he still insists on building it at that location, so we will suggest that the prime minister make that decision.”
Sokleng added that another meeting on beach management would take place today to discuss other illegal constructions in the four coastal provinces.
In 2008, Royal Group was granted a 99-year lease to develop the island off Sihanoukville’s coast and was building the 40 by 15 metre jetty to ferry construction material and passengers to the island.
Last November, the government vowed to crack down on coastal hotels and resorts that restricted public access to beaches or constructed illegal encroachments within 50 metres of the shoreline.
In a Facebook post on January 17, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who visited the city for a holiday late last month, asked local authorities to ensure that there was no illegal construction activity along the beach.