Gov’t To Turn Province Airport Into Cargo Hub

The government still plans to develop the Kompong Chhnang province airport into a regional cargo hub even though an agreement with the original developer—whose chairman was arrested last week and charged with breach of trust—fell through three years ago, an official said.

“We are keen to develop this area,” Chea Vuthy, spokesman for the Council for the Development of Cambodia said Monday. “Now we have to study whether it is possible at present.”

Chea Vuthy said the CDC, which has taken over responsibility for the project from the Council of Ministers, has been approached by a Spanish company about taking over the project from consulting firm DragonGold Ltd, whose Australian chairman, Iain Gray, was arrested Thursday.

Representatives from the Coun­cil of Ministers, CDC, the Com­merce Min­istry and the province met with Jorge Cadiz Pinto, executive dir­ector of Edi­cosma Interna­tion­al, on Dec 19 and 20 to discuss the air­port development, Chea Vuthy said.

Edicosma International also ex­pressed an interest in building a 600-bed hospital, a stock exchange and 20,000 homes in Cambodia but has yet to file any proposals, he added.

He said the government is wary of companies making big promises after Dragon­Gold failed to develop the site. In 1996, the Coun­cil of Min­isters and Dragon­Gold agreed that DragonGold would raise 70 percent of the estimated $3.4 billion initial cost to develop the airport, while the government would put up the remaining 30 percent.

Documents show that Coun­cil of Ministers Secre­tary-General Nady Tan wrote to Gray in 2001, canceling the joint-venture agreement.

Gray is being held at Prey Sar pri­­son on charges of fraud after a Dra­­gonGold em­plo­yee, Raden Sok, filed a court complaint alleging Gray owed him $10,000. Nady Tan declined to discuss the airport project Mon­day.

Youn Heng, deputy director of the CDC’s projects evaluation and in­­­­­centives department, said several companies have expressed in­ter­est in the project, which may be opened to bidding.

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