Koh Pich Leased to Developers for $50 Million

The Phnom Penh Municipality has leased Koh Pich—the disputed island opposite NagaCorp Ca­sino—for $50 million to a company planning to build a satellite city featuring a 222-meter observation tower on it, Phnom Penh Govern­or Kep Chuktema announced on Thursday.

“This morning we had a contract-signing ceremony with the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corp,” he said, referring to the par­ent company of Canadia Bank, which is leasing the land.

The municipality will receive $63 per square meter from the in­vestor for the 80-hectare island—villagers pressured to leave the is­land were given $2.50 to $12 per square meter for their land.

The rental payments will be made over 10 years while the lease is for about 100 years, Kep Chuktema said.

“The cost is $50 million, but the money the company uses to build three bridges, reinforce the riverbank, build schools and so on will be deducted from its rental payments.”

The money from the rent is not for the municipality but for the na­tional government, Kep Chuk­te­ma said.

He added: “I plan to ask the government to take some money to develop Phnom Penh’s infrastructure.”

Touch Sam Nang, the architect for the project, declined to release the plans for the island but de­scribed them in detail.

“We will construct cultural and tourism areas, a hospital, shopping mall, villas, flats, hotels, schools, offices and a 222-meter high tower from which everybody will be able to see the whole of Phnom Penh,” he said.

“I will be so proud to have a high tower to watch all of Phnom Penh and Koh Pich,” Kep Chuk­tema said. “Very soon this island will twinkle like a diamond.”

The exact term of the least is 90 years and construction will be completed by 2015, Touch Sam Nang said.

Between $60 million and $70 million will go into infrastructure, including a bridge to be known as the second Preah Monivong bridge, and about $200 million is planned for the buildings, he said.

Former Koh Pich residents, and one still living on the island greeted with sadness the news of the price paid to the municipality.

“I think it is really an injustice for the villagers because we received too little compensation,” said former villager Soch Tith, who got $11 per square meter for the land she lived on.

“I will look for NGOs to discuss whether we can legally demand more money or not,” former resident Chum Sam Oeurn said. “More than 200 families received $2.50 per square meter and about 80 other families accepted $5.25.”

Sov Hak, who still refuses to leave Koh Pich, is demanding $25 per square meter. “I am a land title holder so the municipality must respect my rights,” he said. “I have the right to sell my land at any price I want.”

Kep Chuktema said Sov Hak will be forcibly evicted soon.

 

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