Sihanoukville – A kilometer pedestrian beach along Occheutel is the new feature in town this month. Works to complete it began early year and now it changes the face of the most popular beach in town.
I went along the pedestrian taking pictures and videos with my young reporters. In fact, it gives another perspective of the place: more organized, cleaner and easy to access. The beach is oriented south-east to north-west and it is more than one kilometer. Businesses were asked to follow a common design with a handsome thatch roof. Parking areas still under construction behind the restaurants and bars in front to the Kanda Street (the way along the beach.) Parking the vehicle in those areas cost 2,000 riels fee.
We talked with the owners of a bar-restaurant that is located at the most northern side of Occheutel. A Khmer couple, they were too keen to show their place. You will see them in the video soon. Both of them were satisfied with the pedestrian way, because it gives more comfort to the visitors. There is a hope that more visitors will come to enjoy the Sihanoukville beaches.
Even we are in the raining season and many complain of the low number of tourists, you can see everywhere on the beaches Western tourists alone or in group. Holidays see the coming of Cambodians visitors from Phnom Penh.
A group of four persons from Sweden at the bar – also in the video – said that Cambodia is a very beautiful and safe country. When I ask what they think was lacking in the country as international tourism, they answered that nothing, they like the country as it is.
What is lacking
However there are things lacking.
Of course, we are on an infrastructure development process that takes its time and needs its investment:
1. There is not a tourist or civic police on the beach. I would like to see among the line of restaurants, a tiny police station with at lest two tourist policemen or policewoman ready to guarantee security. You can say that the beach is safe and it is true, at least on a simple general view. The function of tourist police is to prevent accidents and incidents.
Now well, Sihanoukville has been spotted as a pedophile heaven and in a special way the Occheutel beach. If it is so true, everybody talks about it, journalists have reported so extensive about it, why we do not have tourist police in the Occheutel beach? Prevention is better than any other method to guarantee child safety and it is at large less traumatic. By sure, possible pedophiles will restrain to contact minors on the Occheutel beach if there are a couple of friendly policemen or policewomen going around, doing their duty as tourist guards as in any other corner of the planet.
2. Now that we talk about children, we can see the presence of them on the beach as sellers and beggars. Children doing that on the beach means that they have to do so, because their standard of life is too low. Most of them attend school, but there are some of them that cannot do it. A good solution would be to ban children from stay at the beach at any time of the day or the night, at least they are with a responsible adult. This kind of ruling has been applied in many other countries with pedophile risks like some places of Thailand and Colombia. It works, of course. No alone children and minors on the beaches. But in Cambodia this proposal should be done with care, because it can conduct to another kind of abuse. Many of those children, as it was pointed out, do not find other way of survival than work. We get then another problem: child labor. Banning children from stay at the beach must be supported by an alternative to improve their standard of life, guaranteeing their schooling and feeding.
3. It seems that safe practices for water sport on the beach still poor. As well as we miss the tourist police, we miss the safeguard. Of course, nobody has been reported drowned, at least near the beach and by such eventuality, there will be many improvised safeguards, but it would give a best impression if we have a safeguard tower on the beach watching the bathers.