EU, Municipality Make Plans to Beautify City

The Phnom Penh Municipality, the European Union and the cities of Venice, Italy and Paris published this month an urban plan for Phnom Penh designed to give planners structure and direction in the city’s development.

Titled “Phnom Penh, at the Dawn of the 21st Century,” the plan outlines three projects that would make the city more comfortable for its residents and attractive to tourists.

One project would involve cleaning up Boeng Salang commune in Tuol Kok district, said Chhay Rithisen, an architect-urbanist and director of the city’s Bureau of Urban Affairs. The project also aims to improve the living conditions of residents who live near Boeng Salang, from school and health services to sewage, he said. The 1998 census estimated the area’s population at nearly 115,000.

Some families will have to be moved since a number of them live on filled-in land in the basin or canal, Chhay Rithisen said. But only half of the project can be done at this time because there is not enough available land in the area to relocate all the people who should be moved, he said. Part of the $3.7 million project, scheduled to begin at the end of the year, will be funded by Japan.

The second project consists of improving three of the city’s markets, starting with the restoration of Phsar Thmei. Built in 1937, the building has deteriorated to the point of collapse, Chhay Rithisen said. The French Development Agency is providing about $5.3 million for the first phase of the project to start this year, he said.

In addition, structures will have to be built to house Phsar Kandal and Phsar Chas, which are currently little more than collections of stalls. But no funding has been secured to improve these two markets, Chhay Rithisen said.

Finally, plans are being made to restore a number of apartment buildings near the river front, which date from the 1960s and 1970s, to make them more livable for residents and appealing to tourists. The city is looking for funding for this project, Chhay Rithisen said.

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