Construction of the first phase of the Bakheng Water Supply Project, the largest water treatment plant in the Kingdom, is “now 60 per cent completed” and is on track to be put into operation in the first quarter of 2023, a joint statement affirmed on April 4.

This was revealed by the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) during a field visit to the site, undertaken by officials of the industry and finance ministries, Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the EU delegation to Cambodia, noted the statement, issued by the PPWSA, EU, EIB and AFD.

The project on the northeastern outskirts of the capital – also known as the Bakheng Water Treatment Plant – will constructed in two phases, each of which will have the capacity to clean 195,000 cubic metres of water a day, as reported by Prime Minister Hun Sen while presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony on February 1, 2021.

The statement noted that Phase II would be completed “one year” after the first phase’s scheduled January-March 2023 completion date, stressing that the project is a “major infrastructure project defined in PPWSA’s 2016-2030 Third Master Plan”.

With both phases completed in 2024, the capital’s water production capacity will increase by “65 per cent” – or from 0.6 to one million cubic metres per day according to the PPWSA chief – which is “enough to meet the current shortage in Phnom Penh, which is estimated at 200,000 cubic metres of water per day during the peak of the dry season”, it said.

“The project is financed by two loans worth $186.4 million from the [AFD], a $100 million loan from the [EIB], an up-to-$15 million grant from the [EU] through the Asia Investment Facility and direct investment by PPWSA worth $80 million.

“The EU grant targets specifically the connection to the poor communities living in the peri-urban areas of Phnom Penh,” it added.

PPWSA director-general Long Naro underscored in the statement: “In collaboration with the [AFD], the [EIB] and other development partners, PPWSA keeps renovating, rehabilitating and developing our water production facilities and networks.

“The completion of this project will contribute to the achievement of the CSDG [Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals] Goal 6 of the Royal Government of Cambodia [with the aim of] 100 per cent of people living in urban areas having the access to clean drinking water by 2025,” he added.

AFD regional director for Southeast Asia Yazid Bensaid said in the statement that his agency, the development arm of the French government, is “pleased with the rapid progress of the Bakheng station. Our partner of more than 20 years, PPWSA, is once again demonstrating its efficiency in the implementation of large-scale works.

“As the dry season is already well underway and pressure on water resources is increasing, this progress is a source of hope for the inhabitants of Phnom Penh,” he said.

And Kris Peeters, vice-president of the EIB, in charge of operations in Cambodia, said in the statement: “Cooperation between the Royal Government of Cambodia and Team Europe, including the [EIB], the Bank of the European Union, on the implementation of Bakheng project is an excellent example of how nations can work together to improve lives and economic, social and health outlooks for their people.

“I am confident that the introduction of the EIB Global, a dedicated branch for the EIB’s operations outside the EU, will allow us to replicate projects like Bakheng and increase our impact in over 160 countries around the globe we support,” he said.

The statement added that the PPWSA “has been facing a rapidly increasing water demand since the early 2010s, spurred by intense construction activities and population growth.

“After doubling its water production capacity between 2012 and 2017, PPWSA now aims at maintaining its coverage of water demand and expand its service area to 100 per cent of the city by 2025, with the joint support” of the AFD, EIB and EU, it said.