Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
H.E. ZHANG JIN FENG, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Cambodia,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, I have a great pleasure to participate once again for the second time with H.E. Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to Cambodia within a month of June 2007 in the ground breaking ceremony to construct Prek Kdam Bridge which is 975 meters long and 13.5 meters width, crosses over Tonle Sap, locates 31.5 km from Phnom Penh along National Road No. 5 and connects to National Road No. 6A at Ponhea Lue district, by using concessional loan from the Government of PRC in combination with counterpart fund from the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Taking this auspicious opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and People of Cambodia, I would like to deeply thank the people and government of PRC for constant support to Cambodia. The loan package includes grants, concessional loans and all sectoral cooperation, especially on physical infrastructure development and rehabilitation. Recently, the government of PRC has provided US$300 million loan for the construction of main bridges and roads including this Prek Kdam Bridge, which we are organizing the ground breaking ceremony today in order to promote economic growth, create more jobs for people and enhance the people’s livelihood to get out of poverty quickly.
On behalf of the people and Royal Government of Cambodia, I highly appreciate and record this great gesture and generosity of the people and government of PRC in the history and the hearts of all Cambodians. The People’s Republic of China has always supported Cambodia by providing concessional loans and aids to construct roads, bridges etc. Those include the construction of the National Road No. 7 from Kratie to Laos’s border, Prek Tameak Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge which was opened last week, Prek Kdam Bridge which is being opened now and other physical infrastructure . Clearly, these activities and achievements strengthen the friendship bond between Cambodia and China which is left by the former Heroic King Norodom Sihanouk who has had a great relationship with China for many years.
As stated by H.E. Sun Chan Thol, the Minister of Public Works and Transportations, Prek Kdam Bridge could bring about enormous benefits. We can regard this bridge as another priceless treasure, which is the outcome of concessional loans and careful studies on the construction project by Chinese technicians in order to broadly contribute into socio-economic development.
The construction of this immeasurably beneficial bridge is started at the time when Cambodia is in need of major potential means to boost the economic growth in order to develop the whole nation through the global and regional integration, aiming at seizing opportunities to promote growth from the exchange of trade in all sectors. The Royal Government considers the physical infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, as an important key for poverty reduction and social development. Undoubtedly, good roads and bridges enable people to travel more conveniently, transport more goods and products to the market faster at lower costs.
Given this cause, the third-term Royal Government chooses roads and bridges as its priority in policies and development programs agenda by investing substantially in restoration, construction and maintenance of all roads and bridges. Indeed, through the Ministry of Public Works and Transportations and the Ministry of Rural Development, the Royal Government has restored, constructed and maintained many roads and bridges; presently roads and bridges are in better condition. The roads and bridges are crucial in transport sector, commercial transport and investment, which contribute to economic growth and social development. Obviously, most of cross-border trades with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are conducted through the National Road No. 1, No. 2, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7. Transport from and to the International Sihanouk Ville Port is done through the National Road No 4. Without good roads and bridges, costs of domestic and international trade including passenger transportation increase worryingly and can negatively affect the prices of goods and economic and social well-being.
Clearly, roads linking rural communities do not only facilitate the provision of health services, education, and other social services but also provide economic opportunities as a whole. The enhancement of the possibility to receive these services and opportunities is the Royal Government’s fundamental strategy to reduce poverty as this possibility will enable us to cut down costs on agricultural equipment and other inputs, increase the prices of farmers’ output, open the non-agricultural revenue generating opportunities and expand people’s knowledge on outside world.
In this context, I have stated very often that the Royal Government considers the restoration and development of transport infrastructure by land, water, rail and air as its priority policy which must be highly taken care and actively promoted further because Roads and Bridges Are Our Hopes and function as the locomotive of socio-economic growth and an effective mean for poverty reduction.
Besides, when Prek Kdam Bridge’s construction is finished, it will become a new achievement which will contribute to the improvement of the standard of living and facilitate traffic flows, services and businesses for people living in the Eastern part of Tonle Sap and allow them to travel to Phnom Penh, central and western regions without having to wait and pay for ferries. Without this bridge, people will rely heavily on ferries that are time-consuming and unsafe.
Indeed, the construction of this bridge is part of the construction and rehabilitation of the national transportation system of the Royal Government in order to link key regions to urban and rural areas nationally. Within the framework of long-term strategy, the Royal Government of Cambodia will continue to construct and rehabilitate the infrastructure and the national transportation network in order to allow the link of important roads to provincial centers and other regions by linking manufacturing areas with markets, cultural sites with heritage centers to serve all kinds of tourism. I am of the view that the strategy of transport network connection requires enough funding for maintenance and repairing of all roads and bridges.
In spirit of implementing this strategy, the Royal Government of Cambodia has mobilized many external grants such as ADB, UNPD, World Bank, Japan, EU and other multilateral donor agencies to rehabilitate the transportation infrastructure to facilitate transportation of goods and integration with the market. Taking this occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and Cambodian people, I would like to convey my profound thank to all development partners who have provided fund to support this strategy of network connection.
At the same time, we are very proud that we are on the path of successfully progressive cooperation with donor countries and international development agencies that have made contribution to Cambodia’s development in all sectors. Hence, with the objective of promoting and maintaining this sustainable development speed, I would like to appeal to all governmental institutions and agencies, local authorities at all levels, especially leadership and officials of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportations to continue the cooperation and to exert more efforts to link transportation network all over the country. On the other hand, I would like to request cooperation and understanding from our people who are indispensable part in the process of rehabilitation and development of our transportation network.
I dare to say that today is the historic day that the Chinese government has provided concessional loan with counterpart fund from the Royal Government of Cambodia to build this bridge crossing over Tonle Sap for the Cambodian people. I would like to congratulate and encourage Shanghai Construction General Company as the contractor of Prek Kdam Bridge and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co. Ltd. of China as the technical consultants to successfully implement the project of this important bridge with international standard according to the schedule or even before schedule.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to thank governments and people of friendly countries and all international donor agencies who have always provided all kinds of supports in terms of spirits, materials and fund for the cause of rehabilitation and development of Cambodian economy, especially improvement and construction of land transportation infrastructure which is the key to spur economic growth, social development and rapid poverty reduction for our people. At the same time, I would like to present my compliment and encouragement to officials, workers, employees of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportations, local authorities and related institutions who have exerted utmost efforts to cooperatively achieve this strategic plan which the Royal Government of Cambodia has laid out, especially on construction of this bridge.
Before ending, I would like to wish you all, Your Venerable Buddhist Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished international and national guests, civil servants, teachers and students, with five gems of Buddhist blessings. May I now announce the construction of Prek Kdam Bridge from now on.