Mong Reththy has created the first 'Big M' in Cambodia and built a monument with his personal trademark at his new Oknha Mong Port 45km up the coast from Sihanoukville.
Aprivate port is the latest addition to Mong Reththy's empire. A spokesman for the
Cambodian business magnate, who asked not to be named, confirmed the plans to the
Post on June 29.
The new port, named Oknha Mong Port, is being built 179 kilometers southwest of Phnom
Penh, off Route 4 to Sihanoukville. Fully owned and operated by the Mong Reththy
group, it will be open to all commercial ships.
Once finished in about 18 months, the port will feature a 300 meter jetty serving
local and foreign vessels to a maximum draft of five meters. The port will operate
a piloting and tugboat service and maintain an on- going channel dredging program.
It will also have its own customs, police and immigration offices.
When asked about their reasons for building a new port just 76 kilometers by road
(about 45km up the coast) from the recently expanded Sihanoukville port, the company
spokesman said: "If there is no competition, there is no progress. And Mong
Reththy wants to serve his country."
The spokesman said he believed that the new port will hold some competitive advantages
over Sihanoukville's. Apart from being one toll station closer to Phnom Penh, it
will be more cost-efficient for smaller users. Without big volumes, shipping out
of Sihanoukville is simply too expensive, he claimed. For those, the new port will
be "much cheaper".
The Mong Reththy spokesman declined to give any figures on how much money the company
is spending on the project.
Nor could he give an indication of when the now half-finished port will be up and
"Because of the dredging, we don't know. But we hope to be able to open it as
soon as possible," he said. However, local sources said that the port will not
open for another 18 months to two years.
Mong Reththy only went ahead with his port plans after getting Prime Minister Hun
Sen's support. But the company spokesman denied that the project was part of any
form of a private-public partnership. "We are not getting anything back from
the government", he said.
Apart from financing the port, Mong Reththy has just finished building a 16 kilometer
all-weather road connecting the port to the highway. In the late 1990s, he established
an 11,000 hectare (4000 ha planted) commercial oil palm plantation in the area. This
made the headlines in 1998 when squatter families were removed from their homes in
Phnom Penh and resettled there as agricultural workers.