Phnom Penh to Get New Water Treatment Plant

Construction is to begin this month on a $40 million water treatment plant to help Phnom Penh meet a growing demand for clean water, following an official contract signing ceremony Friday.

The plant, called Niroth 2, is the second stage in a massive water treatment facility being built by the state-owned Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) with a loan from the French development agency (AFD).

The first stage, which was funded jointly by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and AFD, has been producing 130,000 cubic meters of potable water per day since January last year.

When finished, the two plants will together become the biggest water treatment facility in the country and supply half of Phnom Penh’s water.

Sim Sitha, general director of PPWSA, said the project should be completed sometime between January and March 2017.

“[It] is expected to make PPWSA able to expand its supply of water in various regions in some districts in Phnom Penh, especially the 20 communes that have just been included in the administrative boundary of the city,” he said.

The PPWSA on Friday signed contracts with two French companies, Vinci Construction and SAFEGE, for the construction and supervision of the project.

At a ceremony at the French Embassy, Julien Rayssiguier, senior vice president of Vinci Construction, said the firm was confident in the size of the market for improving Cambodia’s water supply.

“The first stage was Niroth 1, which demonstrated quite well that the needs are here,” he said. “As soon as Niroth 2 is completed, the needs will [have grown] even bigger.”

The demand for drinking water in Phnom Penh increased by 30 percent over the past two years, according to the PPSWA.

Industry and Handicrafts Minister Cham Prasidh praised the PPSWA, which in April 2012 became the first company to list on the Cambodia Securities Exchange, for its commercial strength.

“This is the third financing project that the water supply authority has received directly from Agence Francaise de Developpement and it is a key sign that shows the strength of its financial ability to attract such financing,” he said in a speech delivered in French.

Julien Darpoux, AFD’s program officer, said it was not a condition of the loan that the PPWSA would choose French firms to carry out the project.

“We [provide] untied aid, which means we finance regardless of the nationality of the company,” he said.

Mr. Darpoux said the AFD wanted to enable the PPSWA to expand its capacity and ability to deliver water across the city and hoped to work with the water authority on future projects.

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