Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the Sihanoukville Port Authority, port workers and private companies to invest in a plot of land adjacent to the sea port to expand and strengthen its infrastructure.
Speaking to 1,000 port workers on International Labor Day Thursday, Hun Sen encouraged investment in the 50-hectare Free Zone to stimulate the port’s growth. Sihanoukville Port Authority and the AZ Distribution Group are two potential sources of capital; the port’s workers could be another.
“For example, if each worker can earn $50 and save until it is $500 and buy a share, then they are shareholders,” Hun Sen said.
The project is ready to go ahead, Hun Sen said, as a law has been prepared for it and will be sent to the National Assembly for approval. The project is crucial because it will stimulate traffic through Sihanoukville port, and will play a vital role as a center for foreign investment, the premier said. Most importantly, Hun Sen said, the port project would create more much-needed jobs in the area.
The extended port would soon make enough money to pay any debts incurred in its development, Hun Sen said. He also called on Japan to lend funds for the project. Up to 50 factories could be built in the so-called Free Zone, turning Sihanoukville into an industrial hub. The government is currently working on a project to set up the first factory in the Free Zone.
No private companies must run the port—this is a point of great importance for the workers and the government, Hun Sen said.
“[The port] is like a daughter that everyone wanted. So why should we give our great daughter away? We have to keep her here. The port makes an average profit of $6 million a year,” Hun Sen said.
In the first three months of 2003, cargo coming through Sihanoukville increased by more than 2 million tons compared with the same period in 2002.