Stadium Rehab Appears to Have Stalled Again

Two months after the developers of Olympic Stadium said the project was “back on track” and might even be finished ahead of schedule, officials say they don’t see much progress.

Bou Chum Serey, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said he believes the developers, the Yuan Ta Group, has done some work, with renovations about 10 percent completed.

He said Yuan Ta has begun to correct drainage problems on the stadium compound, and has started cleaning the grounds, painting walls and has installed night lighting for security.

But others said they saw no sign of the work.

“I can’t see that anything is mov­ing ahead yet,” Meas Sarin, secretary-general of the Olympic Committee, said.

He said that the Yuan Ta Group, the Taiwanese firm holding the renovation contract, had tried to sell off parcels of land around the stadium to fund the work, and that the company may be out of cash.

If that’s the case, he said, the project no longer makes sense.

“If the company has no capital and wants to sell the land to [fund] the renovation, we could have done that,” he said. “We didn’t need to sign a contract with this company.”

Yuan Ta officials could not be reached for comment.

In February, however, they de­nied trying to sell land to raise mo­ney, saying they were trying to determine property values. They said the stadium would be done by Oct­ober or November.

In May 2000, Yuan Ta agreed to renovate the stadium and pay the government $3.6 million to develop the site with hotels, office buildings, shopping centers and parking garages. The stadium was to be renovated first, and the project was to take five years.

The stadium fell on hard times during the wars, with dozens of fam­ilies squatting inside the compound. But it remains the largest sports complex in the city and its pool, running track, basketball and tennis courts were used by athletes who complained about the renovation.

The plans also drew fire from Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sop­hara, who said the city’s big­gest sports venue should be preserved for recreation and surrounded by parks.

In February, officials said they had learned that Yuan Ta was trying to sell the parcels. “I’ve told the Chinese Association of Cambodia not to buy any of them,” Chea Sophara reiterated this week.

(Additional reporting by Jody McPhillips)


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