Company Asks To Develop Preah Vihear Site

A Cambodian company has asked for permission to build a 92-km road from Koh Ker temple to the Preah Vihear temple as a first step to developing the potential World Heritage site into an accessible tourist attraction.

“I want to invest in and develop it like Angkor Wat,” Kham So­meth Company President Kheng Someth said Wednesday.

He said the proposed road project from Koh Ker to the better-known Preah Vihear temple will cost $20 million and would be a  na­tural extension of the 105-km, $22-million road Kham Someth built last year from Phnom Ku­len—which is also in Preah Vihear province—to Koh Ker.

Eventually, Kheng Someth said, the plan is to develop hotels, res­taur­ants and other businesses around the temples as part of a multimillion dollar investment project.

But Youn Heng of the Coun­cil for the Development of Cam­bodia said the CDC is planning to create a committee with the Ministry of Land Management to determine whether a new road is needed or if the old one can be re­novated.

“We are studying to find a better way,” he said, adding that CDC co-chair­men Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh will also be asked to comment. “If we build a new road, it could be af­fected by the forest and cost a lot of money.”

One CDC official who asked not to be named said Kham Someth was likely to be awarded the contract.

“Where there is investment, there is profit,” he said. “And the purpose is to build a road for temple development.”

Earlier this year, the Cam­bo­dian government applied to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for designation of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site.

Tamara Teneishvili of Unesco said she wasn’t sure whether fu­ture development in the area would hurt or benefit the site’s chances of attaining the special designation.

“The first priority of the government is the [designation] of the site,” she said. “If they develop before…it could help or maybe it could complicate things. We just hope any development will be respectful and careful.”

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