Two foreign development schemes on three islands off Sihanoukville’s coast worth more than $500 million inched closer to reality in recent days, with the government approving a $35-million resort on two islands and breaking ground for a $473-million project on another.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated construction of a 900-meter bridge from Sihanoukville’s Hawaii Beach to Koh Pos—or Snake Island.
Russian company Koh Puos Investment Group, which signed a 99-year lease to develop the island in September 2006, said in a statement the project will create up to 25,000 new jobs.
“The big issue is to create em-ployment,” Hun Sen said at the bridge’s groundbreaking.
Hun Sen said the 99-year lease will end sooner if the company defaults on its contract and denied that Cambodia is selling land to foreigners.
“They are singing the same songs—that I sold land to foreigners. In Cambodia, we do not sell land to Russia. Cambodia does not sell land,” Hun Sen said.
The bridge inauguration came a day after Australian property developer Brocon announced Hun Sen’s approval to transform Sihanoukville’s Koh Ouen and Koh Bong islands, 30 km off the coast, into a $35-million resort, according to a news release.
“With the project’s investment value around $35 million, this represents not only a serious injection for Cambodia’s tourism industry, but also the economy as a whole,” Brocon CEO Rory Hunter said in the Friday statement.
Sihanoukville Municipal Governor Say Hak referred questions about the Brocon resort to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, which is overseeing the project. CDC officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Kurczy)