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Monday, 16 May 2016

Ministry to discuss Sihanoukville beach development

Authorities demolish beachfront businesses on Sihanoukville's O’Chheuteal beach during evictions last month. Photo supplied

Ministry to discuss Sihanoukville beach development
Mon, 16 May 2016 ppp
Pech Sotheary

A meeting will be held in Sihanoukville today to discuss controversial development plans for Otres and Royal beaches, according to a Facebook post by Minister of Land Management Chea Sophara.

Business owners on beaches surrounding Sihanoukville have been fighting eviction for years.

In February, many believed the end of the road had been reached when the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Authority and the National Committee for Beach Management and Development told 160 vendors operating along O’Chheuteal, Otres and Royal beach waterfronts that they had until March 13 to vacate. Eventually just 14 stalls were demolished on O’Chheuteal beach in April.

Sophara’s Facebook message posted on Saturday said the meeting would focus on the relocation of beachfront businesses and fences obstructing the construction of paths leading to the water.

“People cannot walk straight to the beach because of the stores and they cannot look at the beauty of the ocean view,” Sophara said in the post.

The beaches would also be signposted with their original Cambodian names, rather than names given to them by developers, he said. Companies would be able to sponsor sections of the paths, provided they do not produce alcohol or cigarettes, he added.

Koi Chhay, owner of Otres Beach’s Bamboo Bistro, said he was not opposed to development of the beach in principle, so long as his business was relocated rather than evicted altogether.

“I am happy to cooperate to improve the look of the beach and stability of business, but I don’t support our shop being demolished and everything being cleared from the beach,” Chhay said.

A representative of the Ministry for Land Management could not be reached for comment.

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