The local subsidiary of Malaysia’s Pestech International Berhad has been hired to design and build a $100-million power line running from Koh Kong province to Phnom Penh, which environmentalists are worried will cut through critical, pristine habitat.
In February, the government gave Cambodia’s Alex Corporation the go-ahead to build the 230-kilovolt line from Koh Kong’s Stung Tatai dam to the capital.
In a statement to Malaysia’s stock exchange last week, Pestech, an electrical power technology company, announced that Pestech (Cambodia) Limited had signed a deal with Alex Corporation for the “design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, testing and commissioning” of a 220-km line for $100,213,000.
“The project is expected to commence within three months from the date of the agreement and is expected to be completed within 36 months,” it said.
A rough map of the line’s path posted online by the government in February shows it cutting through the Cardamom Protected Forest and running near—or possibly across—the Areng Valley, home to the ethnic minority Chong community and a group of critically endangered Siamese crocodiles.
The government says it needs the line to meet Phnom Penh’s increasing power needs.
But environmental NGO Mother Nature says building it through the Cardamom Mountains will bring opportunistic loggers to the untouched mountain forests, as similar projects elsewhere have done, and undercut the government’s claims of wanting to establish the Areng Valley as an ecotourism hub.
Spokesmen for the Mines and Energy Ministry and company representatives for the three stakeholders did not respond to requests for comment.