Your Venerable Monks,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here with H.E. Putu Kamayana, Country Director of the ADB Cambodia Resident Mission; H.E. Chang Ho-Jin, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Cambodia; and Ms. Leena Klossner, Deputy Director of the Nordic Development Fund in the opening of the construction site for the pavement of DBST on 505.4 Km-laterite rural roads which is being held in Pursat Province but represents projects in seven provinces. The project consists of: (1) one rural road with the length of 68.7 Km in Kampong Cham, (2) one rural road with the length of 66.2 Km in Kampong Thom, (3) five rural roads with total length of 72.8 Km in Kampong Chhnang, (4) two rural roads with total length of 69.4 Km in Kampong Speu, (5) three rural roads with total length of 72 Km in Battambang, (6) two rural roads with total length of 75.8 Km in Siemreap and (7) three rural roads with total length of 80.5 Km in Pursat. I would also like to extend my warm welcome to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen distinguished national and international guests who are present in this event.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to congratulate the compatriots who live near the construction areas and travelers on the construction of these long-awaited DBST roads. Along with this event, three other provinces, including Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang and Battambang are also organizing the opening ceremony for the same project. People living along the roads will no longer be disturbed by dust during dry seasons while road slipperiness will no longer cause accidents during rainy seasons, especially for the transport of agricultural products. These roads do contribute to rural development, improvement of rural livelihoods and poverty reduction since they provide opportunity to people in the 7 provinces to absorb their share of benefits from rural development and accelerate rural development with a view to improvement of rural livelihoods and reduction of urban-rural gap. These roads will indeed help improve the livelihoods of nearby people. Taking this opportunity, I would like to praise the management and all levels of officials of the Ministry of Rural Development and local authorities for mobilizing contribution from donors and facilitating the construction of these roads for long-term use. Reducing people’s hardship is what we need to do timely and must be prioritized. In this spirit, I would also like to request all government officials to further promote and implement such activities because it is the actual needs of the people and national interest that must be addressed.
Moreover, I would like to deeply thank and highly value the kind support of the ADB, NDF and the Government of the Republic of Korea that have provided both technical and financial assistance to take part in the restoration and development of physical infrastructure and human capital in the country, especially the restoration of roads and bridges. I would like to take this opportunity to politely request H.E. Putu Kamayana, Country Director of ADB Cambodia Resident Mission, Ms. Leena Klossner, Deputy Director of NDF, and H.E. Chang Ho-Jin, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of Cambodia to forward deep gratitude of the people and Royal Government of Cambodia to Asia Development Bank, to Nordic Development Fund, and to the people and Government of the Republic of Korea respectively. The Republic of Korea is a good friend and an important development partner. The Republic of Korea has timely provided large amount of financings, without complicated conditions, to help Cambodia restore and develop all sectors, in particular, the rural infrastructure sector. This support is a big contribution to the Royal Government’s effort in promoting growth and social development after years of civil war. The construction of physical infrastructure will indeed improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery. Given such importance, the people as well as the Royal Government of Cambodia would like to deeply thank the ADB, NDF and the people and Government of the Republic of Korea and record this kind support in their heart.
Moreover, I would also like to praise the management and all levels of officials of the Ministry of Rural Development, of concerned ministries-institutions, local authorities, compatriots and construction companies for their respective efforts that result in the successful conduct of feasibility study and the organization of this event.
I am optimistic that people will greatly benefit from the construction of these roads. The benefits will even grow bigger when development partners provide financing for the construction of further 1,000 kilometers of rural roads in the second stage. All levels of local authority and people who live in target areas can recall that, after the liberation on January 7, 1979, all these rural roads are small and difficult to travel, but soon these will become DBST paved roads. In this sense, we can see the direct benefit of these roads, including the reduction of transport cost and time and better regional transport linkage to national roads and provincial roads. Furthermore, since the 7 provinces are rich in eco-tourism and cultural tourism destinations, more tourists will be attracted to the area. Moreover, these provinces are potential areas for industrial and agricultural sector development. These sectors will grow even faster with these rural roads improvement which will generate more employment for the youths.
We all acknowledge that physical infrastructure is the strategic priority, the locomotive of economic growth that provide a highly effective mean for poverty alleviation because roads-bridges are the blood streams of our economy and the key for economic growth which ensure equitable distribution of fruits of growth for every citizen. In this sense, the government always believes that wherever there is road there is hope, and strong transportation network means we could achieve high economic efficiency because it is the important driving force toward achieving the poverty reduction goal. Indeed, such reconstructions are important and have broad implications on the areas of security, health, economic, agriculture, education, and tourism, particularly for domestic integration of rural and urban areas as well as for regional integration of Cambodia. For instance, after these reconstructions the people will not only benefiting from the ease of travelling but could also transport their produces to markets in the region or provinces/cities as well as transporting agricultural production equipments from urban back to rural areas. These achievements will provide people with the opportunity to find good markets, avoid price and quality manipulation that could harm profitability and confidence in farming and manufacturing, all of which could lead to the abandon of such professions and result with migration.
Similarly, we all know that physical infrastructure network is the priority of the Royal Government’s development agenda as stipulated in the “Rectangular Strategy”, however we cannot implement such strategy in a hurry because it requires appropriate time, ability and capacity. Through this, I have laid out the “Frog’s leap” strategy for the development and reconstruction of our country where each leap always provides us with new outcomes such as these apparent achievements. In addition, we will make further step toward achieving new outcomes for the benefit of our society.
For instance, the opening of today’s construction sites occurs at the same time when the government is paying greater attention and taking thorough actions in the development of all sectors, especially in accelerating rural development activities and reducing poverty while having to face with flood. The recent Mekong’s flooding has affected people living in various 18 provinces/municipalities and 687 cities/districts/khans, whereas 220,781 homes were submerged, and 698 of which were completely destroyed claiming 300 lives and injuring 23 people. Moreover, 1,289 schools, 427 temples, and 101 health centers were submerged. A total of 406,389 hectare of rice field has submerged and 233,484 hectare of which were destroyed. 761 hectare of paddy rice has submerged and 722 of which were destroyed. At the same time, 20,019 hectare of other farming crops has submerged and 13,689 hectare of which were destroyed. 2,936 kms of national and provincial road, 2,936 kms of small road, 177 bridges, 496 kms of irrigation, and 11,789 ms of river bank have submerged and destroyed.
I would like to once again take this opportunity to express my appreciation for those friendly countries that have recently provided financial reliefs and supports for flood victims in Cambodia. A the same time, on behalf of the people and government of Cambodia I would also like to thank the government of the People Republic of China for agreeing to provide 500 million USD worth of loan annually for the reconstruction of roads and building new ones in Cambodia. I would also like to thank the management, and officials of government ministries/institutions, enterprises, private companies, national and international donors for having recently provided financial supports, food, equipments, and medicines for flood victims across the country.
At the same time, I would also like to praise the management and official of the Ministry of Rural Development and relevant government ministries/institutions, all levels of local authorities, development partners and people from all walks of life for their tireless efforts and close cooperation in achieving such outcomes as witnessed today. Rural Development leads to human resource development and vice versa, and rural road development with broad participation of all relevant stakeholders can ensure effective poverty reduction and narrowing rural and urban gap. In this sense, in order to improve work efficiency and continue to achieve new outcomes I would like to offer the following recommendations:
- The Ministry of Rural Development and relevant ministries/institutions, all levels of local authorities should enhance the reconstruction of rural roads to ease the people’s travelling, especially at flood affected areas, because we have the allocated budget for temporary and permanent construction of these roads.
- The Ministry of Rural Development should prepare policy paper on rural roads and other relevant legal documents to ensure highly effective management, construction and rehabilitation of rural roads, particularly to successfully preventing the travelling of overloaded vehicles on these roads. Basically, all levels local authorities must take strict measures on those overloaded vehicles to avoid negative externality.
- The Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Economy and Finance and other relevant ministries/institutions must cooperate with one another to increase public investment on rural road development by paying particular focus on the maintenance, reconstruction, and improvement of rural roads from using red laterite to paving double DBST for upgrading our people’s living standard and for supporting socio-economic development.
From now on, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia I will always take a firm stance in providing full support for the development and rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, a prioritized policy of the government. On the other hand, I would like to support the Ministry of Rural Development’s direction in improving rural roads condition by paving DBST to ensure transportation with high economic efficiency. In this sense, I would also like to urge the municipal/provincial authorities to seek the possibility of reconstructing and rehabilitating those important road blocks by paving DBST to ensure transportation quality, economic efficiency and improve appearance. Once again, I would like to thank development countries and agencies, and all donors for having always provide material and spiritual supports for the rehabilitation of our country.
Starting with these new achievements, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to take this opportunity to further appeal to all development countries and agencies to provide continuous support and contribution for the cause of rehabilitation and development of Cambodia’s economy and society. Meanwhile, I would also like to urge all levels of local authorities to monitor the conditions of these hard earned roads/bridges in order to ensure that they are here for long-term usage by the people in the region. Moreover, I would also like to urge people living in this area to continue to provide good cooperation with local authorities in protecting these roads.
Finally, along with the official Opening of Reconstruction Sites for the Improvement of 505.4 km-Rural Roads of the 7 Provinces, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests Five Gems of Buddhist Blessing.