Ochheuteal Beach is about to get a makeover. From the first week of November, 700
meters of Sihanoukville's most popular beachfront, from Serendipity road to the beginning
of the abandoned golf course, will be cleaned up and rebuilt.
The NGO Pemsea (Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia)
will develop the beach for tourism in a joint project with the municipality called
Integrated Coastal Management (ICM).
Plans for the beach envisage shopping malls and tourism centers eventually, but will
begin with cleaning up the beach and constructing four public shower rooms, toilets
and parking lots.
The municipality will move 39 families 40 meters inland from the beach huts where
some have been living for 15 years. They will have six months to move, and the ICM
project will provide them with stalls for their businesses - but with no housing
or compensation for their lost homes.
"They are not concerned about the environment", said ICM project director
Prak Vital of the families. "And they don't have a certificate for the land.
But in the future, they will all benefit from this project."
Pemsea reports said the families, who sell fish, Vietnamese pancakes, fruits and
other food to beachgoers, have turned their "non-permanent" stalls and
bamboo huts into "semi-permanent" structures with solid foundations and
The reports said the beach was seriously littered, and the sewage system between
the huts and stalls consisted of improvised septic tanks and drainage that emptied
on to the beach.
Unlike Sokha Beach, leased to Sokimex for 70 years, Ochheuteal Beach is believed
to be under government control except for the gendarmerie land said to have been
sold to Kith Meng's Royal Group.
Vital said the ICM project aims to attract investors to the "construction zone"
50 meters from the high-water mark, where a shopping mall, a public stage for plays
and concerts, and a visitors' center are planned.
"But the most important thing is making the environment better," Vital
said. He called for more volunteers to help Sihanoukville municipality keep the beach
clean. "We are not doing this to make money right now. This is a big investment
in the environment."