– Your Venerable Monks,
– H.E. Somchai Wongsawat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, A High Representative of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Thailand,
– H.E. Noppadon Pattama, Minister of Foreign Affair of the Kingdom of Thailand,
– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
– Distinguished National and International Guests,
– Dear Lecturers and Students!
Today I am greatly honored and delighted to participate with H.E. Somchai Wongsawat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, a high representative of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, Your Venerable Monks, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen as well as the Countrymen in Koh Kong province, to officially inaugurate the 152 Km of the DBST paved National Road No. 48 from Hlong to the provincial town of Koh Kong with the concession loan from the Kingdom of Thailand and the official opening of 4 concrete bridges crossing the sea strait: Sre Ambel Bridge, Andong Toeuk Bridge, Tropeang Roung Bridge and Tatai Bridge, with the length of 1,560 meters, which is the cooperation grant of the Kingdom of Thailand.
In fact, these achievements did not happen by chance, but they are the positive results of mutual cooperation between members of ASEAN as well as neighboring countries, which share similar cultures and civilizations. On behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to express my deepest gratitude through H.E. Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, to the Royal Government and the people of Thailand, who always help Cambodia in all fields, especially in the renovation and development of physical infrastructure after more than 3 decades of chronic war in Cambodia has ended.
The restoration of the National Road No. 48 adds the meaning and significance for connecting the on-land traffic to Koh Kong, where the people living in this province during 1979-2003 had to travel by vessels risking their lives to sea storms. With the sponsorship from the Royal Government of Thailand and Okgna Ly Yong Phat, the Royal Government of Cambodia began to rebuild this road in the first phase by using gravel in 2002, implemented by Thai engineering team. In the past this road was a rural road across the forest with high slopes and curves at many sections according to the geographical location and was completely destroyed and disconnected during the war. Without any doubt, the official inauguration of the National Road No. 48 reflects the willingness and commitment of the Royal Government starting from the rural and local community development by putting more focuses on building the foundation of the economic and social infrastructure which aims at ensuring the sustainability and speed of long-term economic growth.
Along with that, the DBST paved road is the last network connecting to the Southwestern provinces, while the connection of DBST paved roads to the East and Northeaster part is being implemented. As for the connection of the road to the northern part of Odor Meanchey, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand already gave a positive sign and it is expected to start the construction by the end of 2008. Indeed, we have to conduct the internal integration by trying to restore and rebuild roads and bridges infrastructure to connect to all corners of the country either city, rural, or remote areas. Furthermore, this road provides the opportunity for Cambodia to conduct the economic integration with the neighboring countries and the region by connecting the cross border goods transportation, which is the popular supply chain to the dragon-head area of Sihanouk Ville, economic pole of Phnom Penh, or to cross Cambodia to Vietnam. After the official inauguration of this National Road and the completion of the warehouse in Cham Yeam it will become the strong and potential physical to sustain various investment projects in this area.
Recently, there was a study on the development project of Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Economic Corridor which covers all southwestern provinces and relies on the National Road No. 4 as its backbone which is like a main blood vein for channeling agricultural, agro-industrial and animal products produced in the Southwestern part of the country to the processing zone inDragon Head area of Sihanouk Ville. The National Road No. 48 which is being inaugurated at this moment is equivalent to a sub-vein which links a region with fertile soil, low population density, favorable weather condition, and high potentials to serve as coastal resorts and eco-tourism to the main blood vein, the National Road No. 4.
Generally speaking, the rehabilitation of the National Road No. 48 is the roadmap for the development of an enabling environment of a fine coastal zone in Koh Kong province, which has not received any development yet, to gain new opportunities to absorb tourists from the cultural tourism resorts in Siem Reap province or neighboring tourist resorts, and contribute to the increase in tourism revenue which amounted to 17% of the total GDP in 2007.
In particular, the National Road No. 48 from Koh Kong to Chamka Hluong is part of the ASEAN Highway AH 123 of the coastal sub-corridor which starts at Cham Yeam Koh Kong, Sre Ambil, Veal Renh, Trapeang Ropov, Kampot, Kampong Trach, Lork.Now, Cambodia has fulfilled its obligation within the GMS framework to set the base for integrating on-land transport sector into the region by completing most of the rehabilitation of the AH 123 of the coastal sub-corridor in Cambodia, and only the 50 Km road segment from Kampot to Kampong Trach and the 17 Km road segment from Kampong Trach to Lork remain unrehabilitated.
This year is the tenth year of full peace and territorial integrity in Cambodia, which is the outcome of “Win-Win” policy I have introduced during 1996-1998 by transforming the heating battlegrounds into areas of safety, development, economic growth and prosperity. We all have experienced a variety of risks and are able to reach this stage because we have made every effort and commitment to raise our own capacity and work continuously with a clear target, which is to reduce poverty rate by half by 2015, and the “Rectangular Strategy”, which focuses on economic growth, creating jobs for Cambodian workers, raisingequity in the society and strengthening efficiency in the public sector. Over the last 4 years, Cambodian economy achieved an annual average growth of 11.1% and low inflation rate. However, in late 2007 and early 2008, with global imbalance, declining growth rate in developed countries and international financial crisis are greatly affecting the East Asian and Cambodian economies. What really disturbs the government now is the record high increase of inflation in the early 2008. This inflation phenomenon is mainly caused by the external factors, namely sharp increase in oil and food price, and the weakening of US dollar. I have already made the assessment on the current inflation problem, and raised some measures to maintain macro-economic stability and to ensure growth during the recent 13th Government-Private Sector Forum; but I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to Cambodian nationals, government officials, local authorities and all levels of armed forces to mobilize and channel all means of agricultural production and financial sources to the cultivated areas and provide timely support to our farmers to maximize their yields; and I urge you to continue your support and involve actively in all reform programs of the Royal Government to join hands to push economic growth, rescue our people from the handcuffs of poverty and suffering, and for prosper development of our country.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its people, and on my own behalf, I would like to show my profound gratitude to the Royal Government of Thailand and its people that have provided valuable aid to Cambodia, especially concession loan for the rehabilitation of the National Road No. 48, and I hope that the rehabilitation project of theNational Road No. 68 from Kralanh to Samrong will receive financing as expected. At the same time, I would like to thank all friend countries and development partners that always provide all kinds of support, either material or mental support, to rehabilitate and develop Cambodian socio-economy.
At the same time, I would like to thank Cambodian nationals who live along the roads and all levels of local authorities and armed forces for their good cooperation and understanding, which is considered as a profound trait of the Khmer people, and for facilitating the timely completion of this project. I would like to congratulate and thank SahaKarn Wisavakorn Co., Ltd, andNawarat Patanakar Co., Ltd, technical consultant to the Thailand’s Department of Highways, and TEAM & PRC Thailand for implementing and providing technical consultant to this rehabilitation project to be completed on time.
Finally, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished national and international guests, Cambodian nationals, teachers, and all students the 5 Gems of Buddhist Blessing.
May I now declare the Official Inauguration of the 125 kilometer-National Road No. 48 from Chamka Hluong to Koh Kong and 4 bridges along this National Road.