The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing.
The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the Chroy Changvar bridge was reclassified from state-public land to state-private land last month, according to a royal decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and released in the first quarter of 2018’s royal book.
The royal decree consists of four articles granting the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) responsibility for managing the newly transitioned land.
Officials from both ministries were tight-lipped about why the reclassification was made or what the government planned to do with the space.
MEF spokesman Nup Sothun Vichet declined to comment on Monday and referred questions to the MPWT.
Ken Ratha, deputy director of the MPWT Cabinet, confirmed the content of the royal decree on Monday but said he had no details about the project.
MPWT spokesman Va Simsorya said he could not give out any details about what would happen to the riverfront area and instead repeated the content of the decree.
“In the past it was public-state land, and now it has become private-state land that is open to investment,” he said.
The reclassifying of state-public land to state-private land is a key step toward granting a long-term lease or economic land concession. Roughly the northern half of the designated area is already under the management of the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP), a state-run agency, while the southern half is mostly a paved walkway where private riverboats dock. PPAP Director General Hei Bavy could not be reached for comment.
The riverfront real estate would likely fetch between $4,000 and $6,000 per square metre on the open market, according to Chrek Soknim, CEO of real estate firm Century 21 Mekong, making the potential value of the land up to $550 million.