Sihanoukville Begins to Expand Port

Construction began Wednes­day on a terminal for shipping containers in Sihanoukville, funded by a $40 million loan from Japan.

Prime Minister Hun Sen at­tended the ground-breaking and praised the project as a key to expanding trade in and out of Cambodia. “[A port] is like a nose,” he said in a speech broadcast on Bayon Radio. “If the nose is blocked off, it is difficult to breathe,” just as an ineffective port impedes international trade.

The 6.5-hectare terminal will give ships a modern, central facility to unload their containers so that trucks or other ships can pick them up for distribution, and vice versa.

It will occupy 240 meters of coastline under the Japanese-funded plan, but the prime minister said he was lobbying for another $8 million to $9 million to add 160 meters more.

Hun Sen said enlarging and improving Sihanoukville’s port services will transform it into a major stopping point on international shipping routes, and he encouraged the port’s workers to contribute to the effort.

“You guys—Customs, port masters [Camsab], Immigration, workers and management—have to do your work smoothly,” he said. “You have to smile all the time and provide professional service. Then everyone here will make a lot of money.”

If Japan won’t contribute to build the extra 160 meters, Hun Sen said the port’s own net profits, which are now about $5 million per year, could be used.

Even without infrastructure improvements on this scale, Sihanoukville port has become increasingly popular in the last decade. In 1992, the port handled 283,000 tons of goods; in 2001, the number jumped to 1,763,000 tons.

In 1992, 229 ships called at the port, compared to 825 last year. And containers passing through the port increased from 2,194 in 1992 to 145,292 in 2001.

Lou Kim Chhun, director general of the Port Authority, said the new terminal is scheduled to open in October 2004.


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