The Kep Provincial Administration is set to break ground on the long-awaited $1.95 million Ses Sar quay, or “White Horse Port”, on September 15 in the northwestern reaches of the coastal province, in a bid to prop up the local transportation and tourism sectors.

The administration said in a September 1 statement that the quay would contribute to the development of the national economy, create employment opportunities, enhance the standard of daily living and alleviate poverty for Kep locals.

Kep provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction director Voa Sokha told The Post that the White Horse Port would be built on 8ha in O’Krasar village, O’Krasar commune of Kep town – near Konsat commune of Kampot province’s Teuk Chhou district.

He said the project would be built under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement with a 15-year concession period, invested by the private sector.

The BOT model is a form of project financing where the public sector grants concessions to a private entity to build and operate projects for a specified period a time, after which ownership is typically transferred back to the government.

Sokha went on to say: “This port will facilitate the transportation of goods, [notably] agricultural products, between Kep and Kampot provinces, especially when transporting raw materials to supply factories in [neighbouring] Kampot province.”

In a February 15 letter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance noted that the project would require $1,950,560 in capital, and that the investor is allowed to collect taxes from goods that transit White Horse Port over 15 years, starting from the quay’s inauguration date – scheduled for 2023.

In addition to applicable taxes as required by law, the ministry said the firm must pay an annual 11 million riel ($2,700) to the provincial government in the first five years, after which five per cent will be added for each subsequent five-year period.

At the end of the 15-year contract period, the investor is to unconditionally hand over the quay and all buildings to the government, it added.

Kep provincial Department of Tourism director Som Chenda welcomed all government efforts to develop the province’s tourism capacity.

He said White Horse Port would ultimately increase tourism activity in Kep, highlighting the potential of the coastal locality, and especially its 12 islands and reef.

Chenda noted that the project “would not only be a cargo port, but also a tourism port, which will facilitate the transport of goods, and [especially] agricultural products, in and out of Kep”.

“This port will also make the docking process easier for fishing communities as well,” he said.

Speaking at a discussion about a draft law on ports in October, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol noted that the Kingdom has 105 ports – 78 river ports and 27 sea ports.

“These ports play an important role in promoting all kinds of trade activities in the national, regional and international economic development process,” he said.