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Government Greenlights Feasibility Study for Mondulkiri Airport and Satellite Town Project

by Surya Narayan
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The Cambodian government has given its approval to the FOCUS Consortium to initiate a comprehensive feasibility study for the construction of a new airport in Mondulkiri province. This ambitious project is part of a broader initiative aimed at developing a satellite town in the region. The State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SCCA) will collaborate with the consortium in executing this study, in accordance with Cambodian laws and procedures. The authorization was conveyed through a letter dated January 9, signed by Secretary of State Chheang Vannarith, from the Office of the Council of Ministers.

Originally, China Power was granted permission to explore the airport investment project. However, the global Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted the financial landscape, leading the Chinese company to withdraw from the project and suspend its plans. As a result, the government has now entrusted the FOCUS Consortium with conducting the study and potentially pursuing the investment.

The FOCUS Consortium, spearheaded by Focus Trans Global Venture Co Ltd, comprises investors from Malaysia, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The project’s framework will adopt a Build-Transfer-Operate (BTO) model, which also includes the development of a versatile satellite town and an air cargo center within the province.

Sin Chanserey Vutha, the spokesperson for the SSCA, explained that the new company’s primary task is to carry out the feasibility study. The fate of the investment project will hinge on the outcome of this study. If the results are unfavorable, further investment will not proceed, making it imperative to await the study’s findings before making any subsequent decisions.

Regarding the previous project led by China Power, it had planned for a construction area spanning 300 hectares, with estimated costs exceeding $80 million. However, the specifics of the budget and construction area for the new company’s study project remain unconfirmed.

The potential benefits of a successful airport and satellite town project in Mondulkiri are substantial. It is expected to stimulate economic activity in the province, particularly in sectors such as agro-industry and tourism. This aligns with the National Strategic Development Plan and the government’s tourism development agenda, which recognizes Mondulkiri as a province with significant untapped potential for economic growth.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, stressed the significance of constructing an additional airport for national development. He emphasized that Mondulkiri, being a prominent tourist destination and economic hub, is well-suited for such a project. The long distance between Mondulkiri and Phnom Penh makes it an ideal location for an airport, facilitating investments in various sectors, particularly tourism and agro-industry. Vanak believes that improved accessibility will enhance the province’s appeal to investors, ultimately contributing to the national economy’s growth, thanks to Mondulkiri’s pristine natural beauty and favorable climate.

Source: Phnompenh Post

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