The price of progress? Trading trees for pavement, the city gears up
for its inevitable expansion.
undreds of trees have been cut away from the sides of Ekareach Blvd (Independence
Boulevard) in Sihanoukville to extend the width of the road.
Independence Blvd is currently 4.8 kilometers long and about 6 meters wide. Now the
municipality plans to extend the width of the road by three meters on each side.
To enable the extension, all the shade trees along the boulevard have been felled.
Third deputy governor of Sihanoukville Sboung Sarath, who is leading the rebuilding,
said that the road needed to be doubled in width in order to avoid traffic jams in
the seaside town.
He said the felled trees, which included coconut and flame trees, would be replaced
by flowering trees to beautify the coastal town.
He added there were three other reasons for cutting down the trees. First: to prevent
them falling down on the road when it is windy; secondly to prevent the dropping
of the ripe coconuts on the heads of people, especially children; and finally to
stop the destruction of the road.
Sihanoukville as residents and visitors will fondly remember it from the rapidly-receding 20th century - tranquil and pastoral.
Sarath estimates that the first part of the project will cost about $10,000 : to
cut the trees, dig up the roots and level the surrounding soil. The funding was provided
by the municipality and the people who live along the road.
The trees had been planted in the 1960s and had grown to between 8 and 12 meters
high since then.
Sarath had noted that there were two views on this issue, but said most people had
supported the clearing of the trees to avoid danger to their children, however a
small number of people seem to be critical of this action.