Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd (KLP) on May 5 signed a construction contract with Chinese state-backed China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC) for a $1.5 billion multi-purpose port in Kampot province’s Bokor town.

The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, located in Prek Tnort commune, will be built on a 600ha plot of seafront land with water depth of at least 15m, which will be able to accommodate ships weighing up to 100,000 tonnes.

Work formally began at the site on May 5, 2022 with a groundbreaking ceremony presided over by Ministry of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol.

A ceremony was held in Prek Tnort’s Chang’on village to mark the May 5 signing, witnessed by Chanthol, his ministry noted in a statement.

Citing an unnamed KLP representative, the statement said the project would be the local company’s first deep-sea port, which it noted is still planned to accommodate ships weighing as much as 100,000 tonnes.

The port aims to stimulate exports and business operations as well as save time and money for traders and investors, it said, adding that the project will be equipped with automated systems, emerging technologies and advanced machinery to increase work capacity.

Plans published last year show that the port is to be implemented in three phases, the first of which is expected to cost $200 million and be operational by 2025. It will reportedly have an annual cargo handling capacity of 300,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2025 and 600,000 TEU in 2030. Some 10,000 jobs are expected to be generated by the project.

A TEU is an inexact unit of cargo capacity used in the shipping industry roughly equivalent to a container with internal dimensions measuring about 20 feet long, eight feet wide and 8.5 feet tall, or a volume roughly 38.5 cubic metres.

Kampot provincial governor Mao Thonin claimed that the port would have a maximum depth of 16-18m and be able to handle 150,000-tonne vessels. He noted that the coastal province now has five ports, including an international tourist port.

He was referring to the Kampot International Tourism Port, which is located in Chum Kriel village, Chum Kriel commune, Teuk Chhou district about 6km southeast of Kampot town, along the Dang Prek estuary of the Kampot river which flows into Kampot bay.

The tourism port broke ground in August 2018 and was co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and the government, according to the public works ministry.

Thonin commented that the province enjoys an abundance of coastal, fisheries, mineral and other natural resources as well heritage buildings, and is ripe for development in a variety of areas such as agriculture, industry, trade and tourism.

He also put the annual per-capita income in the province at $1,815 and the poverty rate at 14.8 per cent.