South Korea is planning to build what is being dubbed the first smart city in Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province, according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Seoul earlier this week.
Senior Minister Chea Sophara, minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), said on his official Facebook page on Tuesday that the government had signed the MoU with the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport which outlined four main requirements.
The terms enclosed in the MoU relate to the planning of land usage, conducting a detailed study of urbanisation plan using modern technology, the drafting of a land management and urbanisation law, and the construction of public housing.
The senior minister had told an international radio station before he went to South Korea on Monday that construction of the smart city would be achieved through detailed planning, with areas designated for farming and ranching. The city, contingent on it being developed, could also have schools and a hospital.
In addition, local media reported that the state-run Korea Land and Housing Corp. would support a Cambodian public housing project, with a pilot project earmarked to start in Phnom Penh next year.
Sophara said, “This MoU will be in effect for three years. The implementation will begin soon with Sihanoukville as the starting place. It will spread to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmoum provinces.”
Sophara also said the Republic of Korea will provide technical aids in administration regarding housing management, city development and public housing.
Sophara has yet to elaborate on the specific details of the project, keeping mum on the estimated project cost and timeframe and the ownership structure.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap News agency, which quoted an official from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, South Korea’s technological experience in dealing with city issues would assist in contributing to the efforts of Cambodia regarding the development in Sihanoukville.
Lao Tip Seiha, MLMUPC’s undersecretary of state, declined to comment on the proposed project, stating he did not know about the smart city or any public housing project.
Yun Min, governor of Sihanoukville province, told Post Property he was not aware of any public housing project.
Kim Heang, president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agent Association (CVEA), was less than enthused with the news of such development, doubting the project’s viability given the South Korean economy’s current grappling with falling exports and more tempered growth of late.
He added that if the houses were to be sold for $10,000 to $20,000, the so-called smart city should be built in Phnom Penh instead as more people are flocking to the urbanised capital.
Heang continued, “The success of this project will depend on the plan itself. If the developer has land, and eno=ugh capital for construction, it will be successful.”
“However, if they plan to use customers’ money to construct, it won’t be successful.”