Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Your Excellency, Charl A. Ray, United States Ambassador to Cambodia,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,
Dear Our Beloved Compatriots,
Today, it is my highest honor and deepest pleasure to join all of you in officiating at this joyful Launching Ceremony. Today, we inaugurate the completion of three bridges with the total length of 111.50 meters, including Spean Mkak in Sereysophoan,Spean No1 in Tmar Pourk and Spean Chamnoam in Mongkulborei, Bantey Meanchey Province. These important infrastructure projects have been constructed with USD575,000 grant fund provided by the Government of the United States.
On behalf of the people and Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, I take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to the people and US Government for their most valuable support for this project. I also thank the General Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Khov Chhily Company (KCMKK) for their efforts in coordination and construction of these bridges for our nation.
The construction of bridges along the National Road 56 represents part of the Royal Government strategy in restoring key national road networks, linking the various Cambodia’s main production and market centers through efforts in mobilizing national and foreign financial resources. Those, especially, include the linkages between Phnom Penh and other economic zones, tourist and cultural heritage sites and the Cambodia-Thailand border-crossing areas. Thus today inauguration of the three bridges along the NR56 (or the former NR69A) testifies to a new historical event in development of Bantey Meanchey in particular, and that of the entire Cambodia in general.
Cambodia’s effort for regional and world integration of its economy, especially through the WTO accession is one of the three important pillars of the RGC’s strategy in developing the country. Indeed, Cambodia’s competitiveness in the international arena is largely dependent on the success gained in enhancing the national basic infrastructure, including roads, irrigations, power, telecommunication and information in the areas of high economic potentials that is to ensure the reduction of costs in doing business and opening access to the outside markets. Thus, the rehabilitation and construction of road networks across the country with links to neighboring countries as part of the regional road network, as well as the establishment of economic or industrial zones must be a crucial strategy for Cambodia.
The Royal Government has been undertaking its roads rehabilitation program with external assistance from friendly countries, bilateral and multilateral institutions, such as ADB, UNDP, World Bank, USAID, Japan and EU. Significant projects in this category have included the reconstruction of a bridge across the Tonle Sap at Phnom Penh – Cambodia-Japan Friendship, the upgrading of the first section of NR6 and NR7 and the construction of the Mekong Bridge at Kampong Cham (Kizuna Bridge), the rehabilitation of long sections of NR 1,2,3,5 and 11, and especially the reconstruction of NR4 to Sihanoukville with the valuable contribution provided by the United States to our Cambodian people. The Government’s limited resources have also been invested in the rehabilitation of some primary and secondary links to isolated areas such as this NR56.
As General Sem Sovanny has noted in his briefing, the construction of these three bridges is very important to the local economy and livelihoods of our people living in remote areas in these two provinces: Bantey Meanchey and Udor Meanchey. This will facilitate their traveling and transportation of all kinds of goods to markets in the provinces and further across the Cambodia-Thailand borders.
I believe that Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen all agree with me that the physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges serve as economic arteries of any nation in generating dynamics and advancing progress in trade and tourism, as well as helping improve development and well-being of people. I always see the economic openness of any country by having trade with all countries in the region and the world, especially the improvement of the physical links of economic activity, trade, tourism and investment will help us to optimally use our economic potentials and improve our comparative advantage to effectively compete with others in the globalized world and within the GMS and ASEAN development frameworks.
I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm all of you present here that the up-coming 3th Term Royal Government under my leadership will continue firmly implementing our “Road Strategy” by taking this closely to heart, as a leading strategy of our Economic Action Agenda. This will focus around the following critical points as follows:
1. Mobilize financing from both national and international sources with the implementation of Fund and Management for Roads Maintenance sytem to rehabilitate, reconstruct and improve the road network, and supplementary investments in bridges and ferry sites thereby improving land transport throughout the nation.
2. Strengthen the planning capability management and monitoring system, including decentralize/devoling rural roads management and financing.
3. Enhance the establishment and enforcement of the legal framework for development and utilization of national road network through improvement of skills and capacity in enforcement of rules and regulations as well as the management of vehicles and drivers;
4. Increase the speed of the road network rehabilitation program by paving or installing bituminous surfacing of the remaining road links across the country, focusing on those paved before 1970.
5. Repair and maintain for year-round access all links to economic poles, key economic areas, cultural and touristic areas, and the border crossings;
6. Improve urban transportation and roads, particularly in Phnom Penh, to reduce congestion and accidents;
It is my conviction that this 27 July National Election was a great pride for our nation which has suffered decades of internal conflicts and the genocide. Given this hardships, we can though organize this general election successfully by ourselves, showing to the national and international community that Cambodia has opened a new historical page of adhering to the principles of democracy, non-violence, mutual respect for basic rights of each other, as well as the fact that we join hands in developing communities, strengthening security and political stability, which are most important to our day-to-day life and earning our livings.
In this very special event, may I express my profound and most sincere gratitude to all our compatriots for your participation in the election that has helped ensure free, fair, and safe election without violence and intimidation, which have been widely supported and praised by national and internal communities.
In closing, I wish to thank all Cambodian people supporting the CPP and myself in this 27 July election. This will enable me to continue the political agenda of the Royal Government of Peace, Economic Progress and Poverty Reduction during the next 5 year term, with hope of peaceful and prosperous future. I wish also to solemnly declare our commitment toward continuing the “Road Strategy” for improving trade and international integration of Cambodia into the region and the world.
Once again, I deeply thank the people and government of the United States for providing this generous grant for the construction of the 3 bridges and all the development partners who have been supporting and assisting Cambodia in its rehabilitation and development efforts. Finally, I wish your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and Our Compatriots, the Five Gems of Buddhist blessings.