Sokimex: Prison Land Good for Parking Lot Sokimex Says

Plans to build a hospital on the land where Cambodia’s oldest prison once stood have failed due to the pagoda next door, and the only option that currently remains is to turn the land into a parking lot, a businessman said Sunday.

Phnom Penh’s 100-year-old T3 prison was closed in January 2000, and has since been knocked down. The land now belongs to Sok Kong Import Export Co Ltd, also known as Sokimex.

Sokimex, which has considerable oil interests, was given the government land in ex­change for building a new prison in Dangkao district. At the time the company said it had plans to develop a hospital on T3’s old site.

That plan failed because Wat Ounalom, next door to the prison, cremates bodies frequently, said Sok Kong, president of Sokimex. Investors feared no one would use the hospital because they would be afraid of the black smoke billowing from the pagoda complex during cremations.

The company could not come up with any other development plans, he said, so Sokimex turned the land over to a friend, a man named Chan Long.

“I’m not part of the night parking lot,” Sok Kong said. “I allowed a friend to make some money from my land; he is too poor.”

A parking lot and car wash station was built in March on the land that once housed more than 500 hardened prisoners, Chan Long said. Operations will begin in June.

The 1 hectare lot will operate 24 hours a day, with room for hundreds of cars, motorcycles and cyclos, he said. Car owners will have to pay 2,500 riel per car. Oth­ers will pay a “small fee,” he said.

Under the agreement, Chan Long will take care of the new parking lot until Sokimex comes up with a new investment idea.

, Chan Long said.


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