Cambodian and Japanese officials sealed the deal Friday on a $39 million loan to expand and renovate Sihanoukville Port.
At a ceremony at the National Assembly, Finance Minister Keat Chhon said, “Cambodia has gone through chaos…the loan comes at the right time to step into the development process.”
The loan, which will come from Japan’s Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund, will fund the majority of the port’s first major renovation since its opening in 1960. The remainder of the project’s estimated $43 million cost will be paid by the International Port Development, officials said.
A pre-development study on the port project was completed in April 1997 by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, but Japan abandoned the project after factional fighting erupted in July of that year.
“The aim of granting the loan is to redevelop Cambodia’s economy after Cambodia has gained real political stability,” said Kyosuke Shinozawa, president of the OECF.
The plan includes expanding the port’s main pier from 350 meters to 590 meters and doubling the size of the container yard to 60,000 square meters. A new container terminal is also expected to be built, and the depth of the port will go from 8 to 9 meters.
Work on the port is expected to begin in 2001 and end in 2003, officials said. An expanded feasibility study is scheduled for next year. When work on the port is completed, several 10,000-ton ships will be able to dock there simultaneously, they said.
Last year the port handled more than 884,000 tons of goods, said Var Sonath, the port’s deputy director. More than 1 million tons of goods are expected to come through the port this year, Var Sonath said last week. An estimated 1.2 million tons of goods are expected to pass through the port after the renovation is completed, Var Sonath said.