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.