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Airport project board formed

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Once the new airport is built, the existing airport in Phnom Penh will be reserved for domestic flights and low-cost carriers. KT/Chor Sokunthea

A commission has been established to supervise the development of a $1.5-billion airport that will serve the Cambodian capital.

On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen affixed his signature to a directive that creates a special commission assigned to the airport project, a spokesman of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) said.

The group has been tasked with ensuring the land is ready for the development and deal with eventualities in connection to the land, as well as with monitoring and supervising the construction process.

Complications are expected regarding the project’s location, as it will straddle two provinces – Kandal and Takeo. It is expected to occupy 2,600 hectares of land.

The commission will be helmed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara and the Minister of Aviation Mao Havanall.

It will be composed of officials from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the Council of Ministers, and the ministries of Interior, National Defense, Economy and Finance, Agriculture, Industry, Water Resources, Mines and Energy, and Public Works, as well as the governors of Kandal and Takeo provinces.

Chea Aun, SSCA spokesperson, told Khmer Times that the commission will convene for the first time soon but did not provide a specific date. He said he was unable to reveal details regarding the airport’s exact location or groundbreaking date.

“The current airport in Phnom Penh will be reserved for domestic flights or low-cost airlines, and the new airport will be used for long-haul flights,” he said, adding that building a new airport was a necessity because the existing one could not be expanded any further.

“We cannot give you more details on the project’s location or starting date because we are afraid such information could be misused by opportunists to benefit at the expense of innocent people,” he commented.

Takeo provincial governor Ouch Phea, a member of the commission, said he had not received the directive yet, and could not comment.

According to the directive, the commission will determine the exact location of the project, study and evaluate land prices in surrounding areas, and deal with any problems in connection to the land to ensure a smooth construction process, as well as liaise with ministries and institutions on behalf of the developer.

“The commission will also issue recommendations to the developer if the latter requests it, including recommendations on the project’s master plan,” the directive says.

“The commission will monitor the implementation of the project and report back to the Prime Minister.”

Last year, the government said the project, a 4F-class airport, will cost $1.5 billion, with $1.1 billion coming in the form of loans from overseas banking institutions and $280 million provided by local conglomerate Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC).

The remaining $120 million will come from government coffers.

In a statement issued by Teck Reth Samrach, secretary of state of the Council of Ministers, in December 2017, the project was described as a joint venture of OCIC and SSCA. It said OCIC will have a 90 percent stake in the venture, with SSCA controlling the rest.

In January 2018, OCIC and the China Development Bank reached an agreement regarding the project’s financing.

Last November, Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed the importance of building new airports to cope with an expected increase in the number of passengers in upcoming years.

He said new airports must be built in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to handle an expected 12 million visitors a year by 2025.

Last year, the Kingdom welcomed 6.2 million international tourists.

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