The Preah Sihanouk provincial authority is struggling to prevent a private investor from controversially filling in a stretch of coastal area with soil to build a jetty, despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent calls for it to crack down on such developments.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Chhin Seng Nguon told The Post that the district team had already ordered the owner to stop filling in the stretch of beach in November last year and to request construction permission from provincial authorities.

“We told district authorities to ban the filling but it continues. I heard that dredging is taking place, something which the owner denies.

“There is no report, but when something like this takes place, normally commune and district authorities would report to the provincial governor, but we have not received anything,” he said.

The director of the Cambodian National Research Organisation (CNRO), Sok Sokhom, said the owner requested permission from Stung Hav district authority to repair his boatyard in Tomnup Roloak commune’s Village 4. He then filled in a section of the beach measuring 60m in length.

“I received the report about the filling at the beach from the local people. I will inspect the matter on Friday,” he said.

The Stung Hav district administration, which inspected the beach on November 21, said the boatyard’s owner does not have permission to construct anything on the beach.

In December, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min to restore the province’s reputation after he (Hun Sen) said it was gaining a reputation for lawlessness and land grabbing.

Preah Sihanouk province has experienced rapid development in the past five years – largely spurred on by investment from Chinese businesses and entrepreneurs.

This has caused a number of controversial new developments in the province’s coastal areas, often at the expense of the environment and the local community.