Vocational School May Be Swapped to Phanimex

The government is negotiating with the Phanimex company to ex­change the state-owned Preah Kossomak Vocational Training School on Russian Boulevard for new buildings elsewhere and new Ministry of Labor offices, officials and Phanimex said Wednesday.

Company President Suy So­­phan said if the land-swap deal is ap­­proved, Phanimex will build se­ven new buildings at the Na­tion­al Tech­nical Training Insti­tute, also located on Russian Boul­evard, in ex­change for the spacious vocational school campus near Phnom Penh International Air­port.

“The present buildings are crumbled and have no modern, technical materials and the [Ministry of Labor] does not have enough offices,” she said.

The government prefers to make a deal with a local company rather than ask for foreign aid to renovate the current vocational school, she said, adding that she expected the seven new buildings to cost a million dollars each.

“It is not easy to ask for foreign aid…. My company is local and has gained trust from the government,” she said. “I don’t know yet what I will would do with the old place.”

Prak Sokhonn, secretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said the newly formed Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training needs a proper location.

“It is an exchange, not a sale,” he said. “This is a win-win formula for all.”

Labor Minister Nhep Bunchin said he supports whatever decision the government makes.

Man Sopha, dean of the electricity faculty at the vocational school, said Wednesday that students pe­titioned Prime Minister Hun Sen this week to stall the swap of their campus, fearing it would be moved to a remote location.

But teachers and students would welcome new facilities, he said.

“Nowadays there are only 60 rooms, which are not enough,” he said. Still, he said, “the buildings from the French time are still strong.”

The vocational school deal with Phanimex is the latest in an ava­lanche of state-land swaps with companies with close connections to Hun Sen’s ruling party.

The opposition party has blasted the practice, noting that the land deals have been done in secret, without public or legal oversight and limited to a handful of crony business people with close ties to the CPP.

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