Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has ordered the grandest visible undertaking of his term in office—a face-lift for the park adjacent to Independence Monument that he has priced at $240,000.
“Upgrading the gardens is important for Phnom Penh, for tourism, and the Phnom Penh residents [who] like the beautiful gardens,” Kep Chuktema said Wednesday. “When we have new gardens, the people have more space to exercise and breathe.”
Trucks have dumped tons of dirt in the park, which is across the street from a home of Prime Minister Hun Sen, in an effort to raise its surface level by 30 cm, city officials said Wednesday.
In addition, 50 new trees, scores of flowers and new grass will be planted. Thirty new lamp posts also will be installed, they said.
The greatest expense, $100,000, will go toward cement tiles, which will cover 20,000 square meters of walkway through the park, Municipal Public Works Director Nhem Saran said.
A private contractor not involved in the renovations said Wednesday that $5 per square-meter was a good price for cement tiles.
The renovations, which began June 4, should take about 45 days, Nhem Saran said.
As for financing, costs will be covered by funds diverted from City Hall’s $10 million annual administrative budget, Kep Chuktema said.
Advertising revenue brought in by city-owned billboards will also be used, he added.
The governor said $60,000 has already been released for the renovations, and the remaining funds would be found later.
“We can do this because the Municipality has its own machinery to produce tiles. We transport the dirt from Chroy Changva [peninsula] and we have enough civil servants to plant the flowers,” the governor said.
City Hall intends to upgrade one of Phnom Penh’s green spaces every year, he said. Next year it will be the median and traffic circle between Hun Sen Park and the park across from the premier’s house.
The following year, it will be the park across from the National Assembly, Kep Chuktema said.
Last October, ahead of King Norodom Sihanouk’s 81st birthday and Independence Day, the municipality spruced up Veal Meru, the area in front of the National Museum.
At the time, municipal officials declined to discuss the cost of the project, which included new grass, lamp posts and public bathrooms.