Phnom Penh dredging plan gets green light

News – September 2, 2008

Local developer Brothers Investment Group (BIG) has reportedly been granted permission by the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port and two government ministries to dredge the Mekong and build barriers along the riverside, in a project designed to make the waterway more accessible to large boats.

However, according to the Phnom Penh Post, conservationists say the US$300 million project was never put to public scrutiny and did not appear to have enough authorisation from the government.

Phnom Penh Post said BIG has obtained permits from the ministries of Water Resources and Public Works and Transport, as well as from the port, which will “manage this project in co-operation [with BIG]”, according to a document signed by port director Hei Bavy.

“This development plan … will turn this area into an economic zone,” the document said. “Especially to prevent the threat from flooding during the rainy season.”

Another letter signed by Deputy Prime Minister Seng Lim Nauv says the Brothers Group would “manage and extend the port operation zone from Chaktomuk to Neak Leung and Chaktomuk-Tonle Bat along the Mekong River”.

A third letter signed by Senate President Chea Sim states that the project would include “develop[ing a] caisson wall to prevent the continued soil erosion on [the] Mekong and Bassac River.”

The project would be supported by World Link Japan and the Development Bank of Japan, according to documents.