New Satellite City Project

By Sun Narin

Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen has just pronounced the US$3 billion project of the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp (OCIC) to develop a new satellite city in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva peninsula, following several already-appearing satellite city zones in Phnom Penh including Camko City, Grand Phnom Penh International City, Koh Pich or Diamond Island City, which are planning to compete by 2015 and the controversial new town at Boeung Kak area.

Cambodia has stepped forwards to develop the building sector at the growing satellite city. The development of new towns is the government’s strategy to meet the growing economy and the population growth. Phnom Penh is currently residing with about 1.5 million people. It is estimated that the growth is about 20 percent year on year, according to the city hall.

The three main satellite cities are very adjacent to the center of Phnom Penh such as Diamond island, Boeung Kak and the latest project of Chroy Chanva peninsula, which are not good location for the city since it can cause traffic congestion and other problems. Satellite city is the business place, so if they are built very near the city, it can result in the various problem of transportation, flooding and over crowdedness to the city.

Ching Chhom Mony, dean of architecture and urbanism at Royal University of Fine Arts was quoted in Phnom Penh Post in June 2010 that, “City Hall allows the development of satellite cities or skyscrapers – for instance Gold Tower 42 and the IFC building – close to or in the capital. This will cause serious traffic issues and a more polluted environment, as well as a more crowded city.” If you go to Diamond island on the weekend or holiday, you will see the crowdedness of the people.

In addition, after the deadly stampede in Cambodia’s capital last year causing estimated 350 deaths at the latest satellite city called Koh Pich or Diamond city, the critics are drawing new attention to problems arising from the pell-mell growth of the satellite city. Cambodia’s people have been seeing the sign of the growing of the building construction in the country at the satellite city. At the same time, problems have occurred due to the not-well-managed plan of those satellite cities.

Pung Chhiv Kek, president of Licadho, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal in December 2010 that, “It is well known that since 1993, there has been no global urban planning, nor any proper study related to new real-estate zones in connection with sanitary feasibility, urban infrastructure, public transportation or other key services in Phnom Penh.” Ching Chhom Mony, dean of architecture and urbanism at Royal University of Fine Arts was quoted in the WSJ that, “developers just do whatever they want. Our city development is like a mistake now.” The would-be new town dubbed the Chroy Changvar, or “City of the Future” project will cover the area of 387 hectares in Russei Keo district’s Prek Leap area, just across Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge (Chroy Changvar Bridge) from the central Phnom Penh.

According to Chhay Rithisen, a director-general at the department of urbanization at Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction which was quoted by the WSJ, the government has a master plan for the city through 2020 and that some of the new developments, especially the satellite cities, will help ease congestion with new roads and other infrastructure.

However, to fulfill the people’s need, the government has to ensure the security of the city for the people with the good management plan to avoid other problems.