Kampong Speu SEZ buoys investment hope

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway will span across 80.8km of Kampong Speu province. MINISTRY OF PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORT

In a propitious combination of political stability, geography, infrastructure and a booming young workforce, Kampong Speu province is swiftly transforming into a potential investment hub, provincial governor Vei Samnang told The Post on Wednesday.

Serving as a reflection of progress is the province’s latest special economic zone (SEZ) project, which he said is currently under construction on 67ha along National Road 44 in Samrong Tong district – which surrounds the provincial capital Chbar Mon town.

The $66 million undertaking is being developed by a company that Samnang identified as the Chinese-based “UL Traspower Technology Co Ltd”.

Breaking ground “two or three months ago”, “four or five” of the industrial park’s buildings are under construction, with “some” nearing completion, Samnang quoted the developer as saying.

Samnang said: “We’re bending over backwards to push the investor to build faster and are making it easier for them to do so, because once completed, the SEZ will provide about 11,000 new jobs for locals.”

He said the SEZ will host a number of factories that produce essential items including car batteries, truck and car spare-parts, electrical cables and electronic equipment.

He added that the Cambodia-China bilateral free trade agreement, which is scheduled to be signed later this month, will unquestionably draw in more investors to Kampong Speu.

“Given the momentum of development, I believe that Kampong Speu is on track to become an industrial centre in Cambodia,” he said.

He added that another SEZ project had launched on 100ha in southeastern Kong Pisey district, where the developer is preparing to fill the land to create a level area to build on.

Global Real Estate Association president Sam Soknoeun noted the rising investment attractiveness of the province over the past two years, with more factories, enterprises and new homes being built there.

He said that the expansion of Phnom Penh buoys the economic potential of Kampong Speu.

With the added growth, property prices in the province have also enjoyed a steady climb, he said.

“Kampong Speu has a world of potential in its real estate sector, as more and more investors flock to the province, build houses and subdivide land for sales,” Soknoeun said.

He said land in central Chbar Mon town currently costs an average of $100-500 per square metre, while land on its outskirts can cost between $40-60 per square metre.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng recently told The Post that Kampong Speu, with a name that means “Port of Star Fruits”, sits in a strategic geographical location between Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province – home of the Kingdom’s sole deep-sea port.

The 190.3km-long Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway – scheduled for operation by the end of 2022 – will better connect the province to other parts of the Kingdom. This, he said, coupled with an abundance of natural resources will shore up investment growth.

Also of note, Heng said, is National Road 4, which features prominently in the Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025.

From east to west, National Road 4 crosses the province’s Samrong Tong district, Chbar Mon town and Phnom Sruoch district. It connects to Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district in the east and Preah Sihanouk province’s Kampong Seila district in the west.

Heng added: “I believe that Kampong Speu province will draw in more investors when Cambodia enters into a free trade agreement with China soon.”

Samnang previously said that as of the beginning of last month, there were 161 large factories across the province which employed a total of 120,734 people. Of these, 143 were in operation, while 18 are under construction.

There were 1,508 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and handicraft workshops employing 13,395 people, he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in December said the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway will span across 8.3km of the capital; Kandal province (9.10km); Kampong Speu (80.8km); Koh Kong (1.92km); and Preah Sihanouk (89.89km).

Kampong Speu is divided into seven districts and Chbar Mon town which comprise 87 communes further composed of 1358 villages.

The provincial capital Chbar Mon encompasses Chbar Mon, Kandorl Dom, Rokar Thom, Sopoa Tep, Svay Kravan communes which constitute 56 villages.