Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - City cries foul over stadium firm's fruit stall move

City cries foul over stadium firm's fruit stall move

City cries foul over stadium firm's fruit stall move

The controversial $36 million project to build a commercial complex on parkland at

Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium has come under further criticism from municipal officials.

Officials were outraged when they discovered that the Taiwanese contractor, Yuan

Ta Company, is in the process of illegally building 150 fruit stalls inside the northern

perimeter of the site. The company has stopped construction of the stalls following

an order from the municipality, pending permission being granted.

"Fruit stalls are not [part of] the company's development project," said

Chev Kim Heng, deputy governor of the municipality. "The construction is arbitrary

and is affecting the drainage."

Kim Heng said Yuan Ta had built the stalls without asking permission from the municipality.

He added that the company was yet to make any substantial progress on the upgrade

it was contracted to undertake.

"[I] have not seen any development of the project," he said, "other

than the fruit stalls and car washing bays."

Yuan Ta signed a contract with the government in June, 2000 to develop the 12 hectare

stadium grounds. The project involves building hotels, a shopping mall, commercial

units, a supermarket and a parking lot. It is scheduled to take five years to complete.

In exchange the company agreed to spend $3.6 million to renovate the dilapidated

sports stadium and upgrade the sewerage system. The stadium closed the following

month drawing the ire of thousands of Phnom Penhois who used the facilities on a

daily basis.

A representative for the company told the Post that Yuan Ta had received permission

to build the stalls from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

Heng Kien said the stalls would be rented to fruit vendors who currently sell their

wares on the road around the stadium, and promised they would be demolished once

the construction of commercial units started.

He said the company was still willing to get approval from the municipality through

the ministry to allow it to continue construction. A sanitation team would keep the

area hygienic.

"Fruit stalls would keep the surroundings of the stadium tidy and beautiful,"

he said.

However city governor Chea Sophara said he would not allow Yuan Ta to build the stalls.

He said the municipality had a similar problem with the company after its plan to

construct and sell residential apartments on the site.

"Neither fruit stalls nor residential apartments are included in this development,"

said Sophara. "It is illegal."

Several fruit vendors on the road that runs past the stadium told the Post that had

already registered with Yuan Ta for stalls and were ready to move once they were

built.

Yuan Ta's Kien said renovation of the stadium was 70 percent complete. That had cost

the company $2 million and he expected the outstanding renovation work would be completed

shortly.

"The company has several phases to fulfill," said Kien. "In the first

phase the company was to renovate the sports facilities. The next phase would see

the company start constructing hotels and the commercial complex."

"The company is still willing to achieve its goals," said Kien, "and

looks set to spend around $3-4 million on each phase until it is complete."

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