Open green spaces remain crucial for the healthy development of any city, especially one that is urbanising at a rapid speed. According to City Hall, the municipality is catering to the growing need for public parks, but not everyone is content with the recent action, with citizens maintaining that more green space is needed in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh municipal spokesman Meth Measpheakdey said over the past few years, City Hall had undertaken renovations to upgrade existing parks and had invested heavily in new public parks and gardens, including the park along Chaktomuk River, Democratic Park and another garden bed along the Tonle Sap River.
Measpheakdey claims Phnom Penh now has about 70 parks or open, green spaces, adding that City Hall was striving to establish more public parks in new districts in the near future.
Ho Vandy, secretary-general of Cambodia’s National Tourism Alliance, said that while Phnom Penh had a lot of natural beauty, like new parks and the Tonle Sap River, he doesn’t believe they are being used to their potential.
“Looking at the parks, some people still litter in the public which doesn’t look nice at all,” he said.
“Along with building more public parks, the authorities should also ensure that these parks and public spaces are safe and clean, because if not, the locals as well as tourists will not venture to these public spots.”
Chea Sokngy, a vendor in Phnom Penh, said: “A few friends of mine and I don’t do exercise at the parks that often because there are more and more people at places like the Royal Palace Park and the River Side Park. Therefore, we have decided to instead ride bicycles around the local streets.”
“We request the City Hall to build more parks to make greener spaces more available for the people,” Sokngy said.
Chrek Soknim, CEO of Century 21, said construction laws in Cambodia have not specified how much land should be designated for public, open spaces, such as parks.
“From what we have seen, huge construction projects being built in Phnom Penh have not kept any idle space for public parks,” he noted, adding “As more skylines rise in Phnom Penh, it’s even more important for Phnom Penh to develop parks in the future.”
Uk Sovannrith, a former professor who specialised in architecture and urban planning at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said he was concerned about the rapid growth of construction in the capital city.
“Taller buildings lead to higher density of living which can result in more vehicles on the road and extra congestion,” he said.
“The City Hall or the government should carefully implement proper standards for urban planning, environmental protection and proper fresh air flow. They must also create more green spaces in more locations to help offset pollution,” Sovannrith added.