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S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

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A landscape view of Preah Sihanouk province. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre.

The contract was virtually signed on October 18 by ministry secretary of state Phan Phalla and Urban Planning Design Institute of Shenzhen (UPDIS) president Xiao Sima, and presided over by finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth, who is also chairman of the inter-ministerial committee tasked with overseeing the province’s transformation.

The master plan will serve as a key roadmap to develop the provincial capital Sihanoukville into a “second Shenzhen city”, in line with the implementation of the Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025.

Anticipated to take around 18 months, development will be divided into four major phases – Phase 1: Data Collection and Site Survey; Phase 2: Assessment and Proposal; Phase 3: Preparation of Master Plan; and Phase 4: Completion of the Master Plan Project.

Speaking at the ceremony, UPDIS’ Xiao said the institute will share its 31 years of experience of developing, planning and constructing Shenzhen Special Economic Zone with the Cambodian government and people.

UPDIS will also make full use of available resources, including experts and technical support from partners, to build a multi-disciplinary, collaborative, and open-minded international comprehensive team, he said.

“We strongly believe that with the support of the Royal Government of Cambodia and partners involved in the project, we will be able to complete the master plan with high quality, contributing to the development of Sihanoukville into a gateway city, national economic centre, and sustainable and liveable smart city,” Xiao added.

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Finance ministry secretary of state Phan Phalla (left), UPDIS president Xiao Sima (centre) and finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth at the ceremony. SUPPLIED

Pornmoniroth called the master plan a part of the government’s medium- and long-term strategic outlook to promote sustainable and inclusive development.

The government has laid out its vision to transform the province into a model multi-purpose special economic zone and a key economic pole to attract and absorb foreign investment, which could become a new “core engine” for promoting national economic growth, the minister said.

“I trust UPDIS, which has over 30 years of experience and has completed around 5,800 projects around the world, especially as an institution leading the preparation of Shenzhen City’s master plan,” he said.

He added that the institute would prepare a “high-quality master plan” that “illustrates a development vision and direction for Cambodia that can be implemented in conformity with the political, economic, and social context” of the Kingdom.

The concept note for preparation of the master plan was approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2019 after a joint UPDIS-finance ministry team and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) held three direct meetings and conducted evaluation studies.

According to official provincial data, Preah Sihanouk has attracted nearly $4 billion in investments since 1994. As of May 2020, some 20 companies have developed projects on a cumulative 11,647ha on the province’s beaches and islands, with a total capital investment of $3.9 billion.

To tackle the increasing demand for infrastructure, the government in November 2019 earmarked nearly $200 million to revamp 34 roads.

And the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, the first of its kind in the Kingdom is over halfway done, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya.

The 190.3km expressway will stretch from Samrong Krom commune in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district to Sihanoukville’s Commune III. The prime minister broke ground on the road on March 22, 2019.

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