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Shopping mall figures in Ochheuteal beach makeover

Shopping mall figures in Ochheuteal beach makeover

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

concrete floors.

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."