Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema presented a draft of a 15-year development plan for the city to Vietnamese investors in Ho Chi Minh City on Jan 14, an adviser to the governor said Thursday.
The plan, which has not yet been approved by the government, includes a new railway station for freight trains, a rail track across the Tonle Sap and an expanded Phnom Penh International Airport, all to be completed by 2020, said Eric Huybrechts, a French government urban management and development specialist, who works with the Municipality.
Vietnamese investors “were very interested. There was a lot of discussion. [It was] very positive,” Huybrechts said.
To make way for new planned roads and canals in the capital, the Municipality is planning to demolish some slums, giving slum residents apartments or land nearby instead, Huybrechts said.
The Municipality is planning to upgrade other slums, he added.
The planned slum demolition would follow negotiations between inhabitants, the Municipality and district officials, Huybrechts said.
“It could be quick if people accept. If people say they don’t want [to move]…it will take a long time,” Huybrechts said.
The proposed upgrades will be paid for by loans and grants from donors, by the government and by the private sector, he said.
The government and donors generally invest $50 million in Phnom Penh’s infrastructure each year, while the private sector invests $400 million annually in property speculation and real estate, he said.
Asked to comment on the recent exchange of the Municipal Police Headquarters for a new building outside the city center, Huybrechts said the price of city real estate is rising.
One leading Phnom Penh real estate agent said on condition of anonymity Thursday that the current Municipal Police headquarters site is worth approximately $3 million.
A second real estate agent said the site is probably worth between $400 and $450 per square meter, while land at the new site in Russei Keo district is probably worth about $70 per square meter.
Huybrechts said private firms acquiring state-owned land to construct new residences, or shops and offices, may be a good thing.
“The state has a lot of land, and it’s not certain it needs this land,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment Thursday, and Khieu Kanharith, government spokesman, did not answer his phone.
Rights groups on Wednesday called on the police to make public the transaction that led to the exchange of the Municipal headquarters.
The recently reported trades of state property indicate that the government is short “of ideas about how to make money,” Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social Development said Thursday.
He compared it to the situation to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the government rushed to sell state property.
“Nobody knows today where the proceeds went,” he said, adding that politicians and tycoons in Cambodia have become mutually dependent.