Southeastern Phnom Penh’s colossal 125ha Koh Norea satellite city project is pressing ahead, with river filling on track to be completed by the end of this year, according to Touch Samnang, deputy director-general of developer Overseas Cambodian Investment Corp Ltd (OCIC).
OCIC plans to spend a total of $2.5 billion to develop the project – located in Chbar Ampov district’s Niroth commune across the Bassac River from Koh Pich, also known as Diamond Island.
The company is also building two bridges for $39.6 million – breaking ground in October – one of the more appealing features of Koh Norea, providing a much-needed link between heavily populated areas of the capital, and profiting people living, working and running businesses in the peninsular project.
At 824m long and 24.5m wide, the first bridge will link Koh Pich to Koh Norea and feature two 60m high cable-stayed pillars. It is expected to cost $38 million and take 35 months to complete, with investment by OCIC and Chinese firm Cana Sino Construction Corp (CSCC).
Measuring 60m long and 21m wide, the second bridge will also be cable-stayed and connect Koh Norea to National Road 1.
OCIC’s Samnang told The Post on August 25 that construction of the bridges and various components of infrastructure – including the river bank, drainage systems and roads – are about 30 per cent complete.
Since January last year, OCIC has been filling the river bank with stone and sand, as well as paving segments of it with concrete as part of the preliminary infrastructure, a process which Samnang noted is 80 per cent complete.
“As for the land filling, we expect it to be completed by the end of 2021, but construction of the entire infrastructure system may not be completed until the end of 2023,” he said, conceding that Covid-19 had caused the project to fall behind schedule.
The pandemic has required the company to provide regular health check-ups for workers, in line with Ministry of Health guidelines, he said. “Construction is still going on as usual, just not as fast as it was before the Covid-19 crisis, because we just don’t have enough workforce.”
He said the Covid-19 vaccination campaign signalled the start of a gradual improvement in the construction sector’s situation.
Speaking in October at the groundbreaking ceremony for the two bridges, OCIC CEO Pung Kheav Se noted that the Council of Ministers issued letter No 1085 NS on October 28, 2018, which granted the company permission to develop the project.
He said $550 million will be spent on infrastructure development in the satellite city, including the bridges.
He noted that the project employed 700 people at the time, and that “the figure could potentially rise to 7,000 at the peak of construction activity”.
“An additional 10,000 job opportunities will be on the horizon once the Koh Norea development area is completed,” Kheav Se said, adding that the project will be able to receive 50,000 residents upon completion.
“The Koh Norea development project will bring a lot of socio-economic benefits to our country,” he said. “Cambodia is in need of many more investment projects to sustain and reinforce its economy, especially in the face of the difficult economic conditions amid the global health crisis.”
Global Real Estate Association president Sam Soknoeun said Koh Norea’s fresh clean air environment and proximity to the city centre, the riverside and National Road 1 would make it a desirable place to live once the two bridges are open to traffic.
“Koh Norea is in a great location for all aspects of livelihoods and investment, and real estate there will see high growth down the line,” he said.
According to a Ministry of Economy and Finance report on socio-economic trends released last month, the government approved 1,823 construction projects in January-May, down by 278 or 13.23 per cent from 2,101 in the year-ago period.
The ministry said housing projects accounted for 1,607 – down 7.96 per cent from 1,746 in January-May 2020 – and were to the tune of $2.349 billion, down 32.6 per cent.