Excellencies Members of the Royal Government
Excellency Ghutaro Oghava, Ambassador of Japan
Excellencies National and International Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Today I am pleased to attend this groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a stretch of Route 6 linking Prey Romeas Village, Siem Reap provincial town to the border of Kompong Thom and the roads to the airport and the Angkor temple with a total length of 72.5 km, financed by the World Bank concessional loan. This is another remarkable event in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of our physical infrastructure, especially road transport, which I consider as our “Locomotive Strategy” to fuel economic takeoff.
On this auspicious occasion, I would like to sincerely commend the management, officials and staff members of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the provincial authorities, and relevant government agencies and all our compatriots for their active involvement in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of our national infrastructure. I congratulate the Road and Bridge Company from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their successful bid for the construction of this stretch of road and welcome Japan’s CPI as a construction supervisor.
As I have stated on many occasions, as the Head of Government I have attended since early 2000 successive groundbreaking ceremonies for the rehabilitation and construction of road and bridge infrastructure with the view to fully achieving our strategy for the rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure. This strategic move is designed to lay the foundation and create conditions for generating economic growth and promoting poverty reduction.
Today, we made ourselves to the northern region to launch another large-scaled campaign to build and rehabilitate road network here. Taping a variety of financial sources, including government budget, grant and loans, as well as private sector’s financing, we can now improve access to the Angkor temple by the construction of two main axis: Routes 5 and 6. Route 5 from Kompong Chhnang to Phnom Penh has been rehabilitated by the RCAF Engineering Unit. The stretch of Route 5 from Kompong Chhnang to Banteay Meanchey is being overhauled under the grant of the ADB. JICA has completed the construction of Route 6 from Phnom Penh to Skun. The construction of a stretch from Skun to Kompong Thom’s border with Siem Reap is financed by the ADB and from that point to Roluos financed by the WB loan. And the construction of a section from Roluos to the Siem Reap provincial town is being financed by JICA. As part of this transport network, the MPWT is working with the WB project consultant to conduct a feasibility study on the construction of the road to Preah Vihear.
This road network will link the northern and central parts of Cambodia to the western region, thus opening up the potential for economic development and poverty reduction. Apart from the reconstruction of Route 6 and the roads to the airport and the Angkor temple, this project also includes the rehabilitation of 10 ancient bridges with technical advice from UNESCO. More importantly, among the 10 ancient bridges, the Kompong Kdei Bridge – being an ancient bridge for thousands of years – can still support the current traffic. This is the witness to the grandiose architectural resolution of the ancestors.
The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) realizes that the infrastructure and other physical facilities, including road transport, water supply and electrical power systems, as well as the road network lay the foundation and play a crucial role in turning our economic potential and comparative advantages into reality. If you look at the pace of our investment and external assistance, in the next few years we will be able to put in place a network of physical infrastructure, conducive to integrating Cambodia’s remote areas into the mainstream of national and international economies. This is especially crucial for laying the foundation for tourism development. With these achievements, we will transform our famous Angkor region into a zone boosted by adequate transport infrastructure (road, waterway and air) to facilitate economic exchange, trade and tourist influx into the region.
Route 6 is a strategic axis serving as lifeblood of Cambodia’s economy. This will facilitate us in the communications with middle parts of the country, the northern zone and especially establish a tourist link with the famous Angkor tourist zones. This will provide us with a renewed opportunity to attract both national and international visitors to Angkor, being an historic site marking the culmination of Cambodia’s civilization. Moreover, tourists can visit some temples along Route 6. Hence, road is a potential area for tourism development in Cambodia and consider it as an engine fuelling economic growth and poverty reduction through employment and income generation.
Moreover, the construction of Route 6 will open up opportunities for the development and expansion of agribusiness in the northern part of the central plain and the areas surrounding the Tonle Sap, which is famous for fisheries products and production of major agricultural crops, such as rice, vegetable and grains. This area is rich in natural resources. As you well know good roads and bridges are crucial in facilitating traffic and transportation of agricultural products and other goods from this area to the market much more easier and faster with lower costs. This is key to increasing income and improving the living standards of our people. Moreover, tourism development will increase the demand for agricultural products, foodstuffs, vegetable, handicrafts and other industrial produce.
In a wider context, good roads and bridges provide a gateway for linking up Cambodia to the regional and world economies and markets. Route 6 will link Phnom Penh to the areas surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake and the areas adjacent to Laos and Thailand. Hence, road transport will open up the opportunity for the boost of tourist influx by road, especially from Thailand and Laos. It will increase the volume of cross-border trade and investments among the three neighboring countries and transit trade, allowing the three to share many other benefits.
Many decades of political turmoil and the protracted war had destroyed the nation’s transport infrastructure almost to zero level. On top of that, the annual floods in the last few years had also damaged a great deal of our physical infrastructure, that the RGC has made tremendous strides to rehabilitate during the last few years. Therefore, we are in dire need for colossal resources for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of road and bridge infrastructure. Fortunately, notwithstanding the challenges and the difficulties in promoting economic development, many of our friends and partners, including Japan, ADB, WB and other donors have provided timely and efficient assistance to address our urgent and most important needs.
In this sense, what Cambodia has achieved was possible with good will, determination and the resolve exercised by the whole Cambodian Government and people, with generous assistance provided by its development partners in the form of material, finance and spiritual energy. This is encouraging for Cambodia and is crucial for us to benefit from the recently emerged “Diamond Opportunity” for the country’s development.
One again, on behalf of the RG and Cambodian people I would like to express a great appreciation to the Royal Government and people of Japan, ADB, WB and other donors for their generous contribution to Cambodia to serve the cause of development and poverty reduction. I would also like to take this opportunity to urge all donors to continue providing more assistance to support our government’s efforts for the rehabilitation and construction of Cambodia’s physical infrastructure, which constitutes a locomotive for fuelling economic growth and promoting poverty reduction in our country. My special thanks to the WB for providing the concessional loan for the repair of this stretch and for financing other projects aimed at accelerating the rehabilitation and development of Cambodia.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to management and officials of the Ministry of Public Works and Transports, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the local authorities, and other related institutions for making great efforts to ensure necessary condition for successful implementation of our strategy for the infrastructure rehabilitation and construction. At the same time, I urge the PRC road and bridge company and PCI to finish their work on schedule and to maintain technical standards for the construction. I appeal to our compatriots to cooperate and support this important work.
Again and again I appeal to the MPWT, the local authorities, compatriots, especially the transportation companies and road users to maintain and take care of all our recently rehabilitated and reconstructed roads and bridges to ensure long-term use. In conclusion, I would like to wish Venerable Buddhist Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, representatives of the military, compatriots and students with the five gems of Buddha’s blessings—Longevity, Nobility, Healthy, Mighty, and Brightness. I would like to announce the groundbreaking of the stretch of Route 6 linking Prey Romeas Village, Siem Reap provincial town to the border of Kompong Thom and the roads to the airport and the Angkor temple. Thank you all for your attention.