Banteay Meanchey province, nestled between the better known provinces of Siem Reap and Battambang, once suffered from a lack of business activity partly due to a long-running border dispute with Thailand. Recent indications, however, show the area is recovering some lost ground on the infrastructure front.
Suon Bava, governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said in the past the province had continually been overlooked by local investors despite its tourism potential and attractive location given it borders Thailand.
Nevertheless, the tide is turning for the province, with Bava stating that investment activity had picked up.
“Recently, I see the potential of property development from local businessmen to develop in two economic zones, both in Serei Saophon [the province’s City] and Poipet city with most dividing the land for sale,” he said.
While the province already has established services and infrastructure, such as a university, restaurants, hotels and roads, Bava said the province has yet to witness the development of large-scale shopping centres.
Bava said the province lacked special economic zones (SEZ) which was hampering further investment growth, but noted the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction was currently investigating the province for high-potential areas that could be deemed as SEZs.
“We have three main borders such as Poipet, Malai and Boeng Trokoun which help people to go to Thailand to conduct business, and now we have agreed to open one more border called Steng Bot which is located in Poipet city to get more big trucks in for goods transportation,” Bava said.
Bava said the province had put into gear a number of infrastructure initiatives, including the development of a new line which will run from the city centre to Poipet which will then lead into a connection to continue on to Thailand.
In addition, local companies have started to construct borey projects, however foreign investment has yet to be earmarked for residential property.
“We are now constructing the railway and we plan to have it done at the end of this year,” he said.
“National Road 5 will also be reconstructed all the way from Poipet city to Battambang city this year.”
In the future, Bava hopes to work with relevant ministries in the hopes of creating a sports stadium.
Meanwhile, Yem Nary, a local investor living in Banteay Meanchey, said real estate transactions and general property activity was on the rise, adding that five local businesses had invested in the property sector in the province in the past year.
He continued: “I have around ten hectares [of land] which is located only one kilometre from Serei Saophoan city. Now, I have divided the land to sell to people who want to build housing and there are already 40 units on the land with a park and road.”
Hoy Kunthea, a teacher at Banteay Meachey Education Department, said he was content living in the province, as “in recent years there has been development in infrastructure such as road, railway, market, boreys, guesthouses, and so on.”
Kunthea added that some local businessmen have ploughed money into developing more markets, parks and other public facilities like restaurants which is proving popular with the locals and passing tourists.
Mao Lyhong, a student living in Banteay Meachey, said he had observed an uptick of infrastructure construction works.
“Recently, there are more development projects in the province such as a new road, a park, market, and railway,” he said.
Banteay Meanchey province, which was split off from Battambang province in 1988, has five districts consisting of Mongkol Borei, Thmar Puok, Serei Saophoan, Preah Netr Preah and Phnom Srok.
The last population census in 2008 estimated 740,000 people lived in the province.