Royal Group Ordered to Dismantle Jetty on O’Tres Beach

Six months after it started construction, Kith Meng’s Royal Group has been ordered to demolish a nearly finished jetty on O’Tres Beach near Sihanoukville, with local officials saying the tycoon’s company was never granted permission to build it in the first place.

On Wednesday, the National Committee for Cambodia Bay Management and Development sent Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min a letter saying it had reviewed an August 2015 request by Royal Group to build a 40-meter-long jetty on the beach in Stung Hav district and had decided to turn it down—despite the fact that the company began construction at the same time it submitted the request.

Men stand on the Royal Group's jetty on O'Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk province on Thursday. (Seng Ou)
Men stand on the Royal Group’s jetty on O’Tres Beach in Preah Sihanouk province on Thursday. (Seng Ou)

The bay management committee “has reviewed this location and cannot allow it because the Royal Government has a policy to manage O’Tres Beach as a model beach for serving tourism and the coastal environment by freezing all construction on the territorial sea, as well as having measures to demolish anarchic construction,” read the letter, signed by committee chairman and Land Management Minister Im Chhun Lim.

“The company will have to find a new location that will not impact the coastal environmental area for tourism and will need to get permission from the National Committee for Cambodia Bay Management and Development,” it continued.

The jetty is intended to serve the Royal Sands Resort on Koh Rong island, about 25 km from Sihanoukville, which is currently under construction. The Royal Group broke ground on the 100-room luxury resort in December, part of a sprawling $30 million plan to develop the southern portion of the island.

Chhun Buntha, a vice chairman of the Royal Group in charge of the hotel’s construction, said his company was notified of the letter on Thursday.

“I am waiting to follow the orders from the top leaders of the company,” he said. “It depends on the authorities, but they can [begin demolishing the jetty] whenever they want.”

Mr. Buntha said he did not know how much the jetty had cost, but confirmed that it was nearly finished and was to be used for transporting building materials to the hotel site. He refused to say why Royal Group had gone ahead with construction without the government’s permission.

Deputy provincial governor Chhin Seng Nguon said authorities had ordered a stop to construction twice in the past six months.

“The company requested permission and began building at the same time because they wanted to develop Koh Rong quickly,” he said, declining to say whether the company would be subject to a fine or other sanction for the unauthorized construction.

“We will order them to demolish the jetty on O’Tres and will offer another option for them to build one at Tomnop Roloak,” near the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, he added.

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