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Ochheuteal set for 2008 overhaul

Ochheuteal set for 2008 overhaul

Cambodia's most popular seaside area with foreign and domestic tourists, Ochheuteal

Beach, will be completely overhauled and redesigned beginning in 2008, top municipal

and tourism officials said on August 3.

Judging by renderings obtained by the Post, the new Ochheuteal area is one of sidewalks,

car parks and concrete palm-lined promenades - a far cry from the laid back, populist

playground that exists today.

According to Sihanoukville Municipality Governor Say Hak, the city has decided to

redevelop Ochheuteal to comply with proper infrastructure standards. Hak said all

38 bar and restaurant owners along the beach had agreed to move their operations

to higher ground to facilitate construction efforts, including the introduction of

public bathrooms.

"At the moment we do not have proper bathroom or toilets," Hak said. "We

will make the new sewage system flow the waste water away from the beach in order

to avoid bad water flowing into the sea."

Som Chenda, Sihanoukville tourism director, voiced concern about increased beach

pollution as a result of overuse, negligence and enterprising food vendors.

"I'm worried that in the near future the beach will be damaged and the water

will be polluted," Chenda said. "Our beach is not clean as good as in standard,

so we have to develop." Chenda said that if the vendors and the tourists do

not help to hygiene the beaches sooner or later the beach will be destroyed.

"They do not understand about the environmental pollution, they are thinking

only about their income,"

Hak said Ochheuteal beach development plan may be a precedent. If it is successful,

similar improvements will be implemented on other Sihanoukville beaches. At the moment,

the authority is negotiating with a local private company to develop the car parks,

sewage systems and public restrooms.

"I'm concerned about the possible destruction of the beach. If this happens

it will mean that many people will lose their source of income," he added.

An employee at a beachside café, speaking on condition of anonymity, said

the rubbish and the waste on the beach was not caused by businesses but by beach

vendors hawking cakes, seafood and fruit.

"The mobile beach vendors never help to clean the beaches," he said. "They

are throwing garbage everywhere on the sand." He said as he has observed that

foreign tourists are more understanding about the environment than Cambodian tourists.

According to Hak the number of tourists both foreign and domestic visiting Sihanoukvill

is expected to increase.

A recent survey titled "Top Ten Asian Beaches" conducted by an Australian

newspaper the Sunday Times, found that Ochheuteal ranked eighth in the entire continent.

The article praised Ochheuteal for its "long stretch of white sand beach, lined

with pine trees," and said the area was "popular with Cambodians and travelers

alike."

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