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Ministers discuss Sihanoukville’s still-murky development plans

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While Sihanouk province has development potential, fundamental issues such as waste management still need to be solved. Heng Chivoan

Ministers discuss Sihanoukville’s still-murky development plans

An inter-ministerial meeting that took place earlier this month in Preah Sihanouk was said to have been called to make concrete the seesawing plans of the province’s business and environmental development.

In attendance were Chea Sophara, Thong Sokhon, and Say Samal, ministers for the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction (MLMUPC), Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Environment respectively, with the main purpose being to track the progress of property and infrastructure development occurring in the seaside town.

This marks the second time the ministers have met this year in an attempt to clarify certain undisclosed issues surrounding the town’s master plan.

Seng Lot, spokesman for the MLMUPC, told Post Property on Monday that the mid-July meeting was held to discuss three pressing issues; first of which was to review the proposal to develop a five-star hotel on Koh Rong helmed by The Royal Group, which also entailed discussions on land sharing for the island’s existing residents.

In addition, the ministers reviewed a proposal from the Sihanoukville Provincial Hall regarding the issue of land titles of residents living in Poy Kampenh, an area in Sihanouk province.

Last on the meeting agenda was the discussion of the progress of the coastal town’s redecoration, with a spotlight on the prohibition and laws that the local authorities are stressing in light of recent unlawful construction and privatisation of the coastal land.
Lot added, “The first and second issues have not been decided upon. The three ministers will propose a policy to the prime minister.”

Seng Houng Leang, deputy district chief of Koh Toch district in Koh Rong, said every decision is to be made by the authorised national committee.

He could not comment on anything else except that giving out land titles to the people on the island would satisfy the locals. Koh Rong has five villages, with more than 2,500 people calling the island home.

Meanwhile, Yen Min, governor of Sihanouk Province said the provincial authority is working on a range of developments comprising the construction of gates to all the beaches, improved infrastructure, beach-cleaning and giving land titles to the people of Koh Rong.

After the meeting, the three ministers kept mum on whether there had been any conclusive results or framework to start taking action upon.

Ho Vandy, secretary general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said that while Sihanoukville continues to face many changes, a substantial number of them are positive because of the construction of resorts.

He added, “Representing the private sector, I welcome these new developments as they help play an important part in attracting national and international tourists.”

“We hope there will be a better coastal management as a result of thorough planning from the government.”

Vandy also urged for more action to be taken on the more prominent issues of illegal buildings, transportation and improved waste management along the 450 kilometre-long coastal island.

“The presence of [minister for Environment] Say Samal will boost the commercial, environmental and infrastructural sustainability in this island. It can be a model,” he said.​

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