… Please allow me to give my remark. HE Minister Sun Chan Thol has just reported to me before I came here that there was an increase of 28.33% of overloaded trucks in the first three months of 2006. For the first three months of 2007 we noticed a decrease to 9.33% or 19% more. Although we have brought down this much of decrease of overloaded case, we still have to be aware that the remaining percentage could also cause serious damage to our roads and bridges as well. I am to instruct you all that this has to be amended. I see that this matter should be cooperated by transport company heads, vehicle owners and drivers.
We now have to reconsider measures are not necessary for instance we have to impose weight lifting for trucks along the national roads and it looks as if we have problem of checkpoint along the road with hundreds of staff. This is not the time of Pol Pot threat when we had ambushes along the roads. In those days we clear 100 or up to 200 meters of forest along the national roads so that they do not have a bushy or forest area to hide and operate. But we do not have war anymore and now we have to use our force, which consists of military police, police, MPWT … to check the weight of the trucks. That is what I say we have used forces in matters that are indeed unnecessary.
I have warned that any company caught with trucks charging exceeding the weight allowed I would not hesitate to order a closure of companies. Having said so some people would say that the measure seems to be too strong but it is for people’s and companies’ sakes, and drivers’ lives. So I recommend MPWT to work with owners of transport companies to sort out misunderstandings on this issue.
Now we have seen trucks loaded with heavy construction materials like steel, cement, etc. to remote areas. This is possible now because we have better roads than before. In addition to that we have more cars and mechanized transport means growing everyday. Facing this issue, we have to set a line for discussion with owner of heavy trucks so that we can protect our roads and bridges. I would also like to draw your attention on another matter aside from overload in weight. That is to say about overload in size and shape. In 1979 we had far less transport means and we saw less road accidents. But I have now seen our people traveling on roofs of vehicles. This clearly indicates that there is not enough transport means yet.
I think that we should pursue this idea of taking a particular road to try and set a good system for their business and passengers taking. They should have an association of taxi or transports groups so that passengers taking would not be a matter of concern and it would evade also issue of fighting for being the first to leave or to fight for passengers. Traffic accident has become cause number one in causing death now following by HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS used to be the fist and mines to be the second to cause death.
As far as road renovation is concerned I have instructed the Ministry of Economy and Finance to cooperate closely with MPWT to work out funding for the maintenance of roads in bad conditions. We should not overlook small pot holes because if we are late the road would be severely damaged to a great extent. Fixing small hole would take us less resource and time while bigger ones would take us more resource and time.
We also have to see that disbursing fund for maintenance should be quick as prolonged decision would increase the project’s expenses because of the fact that the hole is getting bigger than the measured expense from the first hand. Sometimes my instruction to the Ministry Economy and Finance was responded with silence while the requested roads have been damaged more and more. In Siemreap I see that tourists almost have to walk in mud. I ordered a reconstruction and I do not care the money from where but you have to fix the road. We should not wait for money from World Bank as we badly need the road.
My wife and I went to Saang and we saw the maintenance efforts. But the size to be maintained is far exceeding the size of resource provided. I called HE Uk Rabun the Secretary of State for Economy and Finance to discuss with HE Sun Chan Thol to work our a plan for the reconstruction of national road 21. I used to hold a cabinet meeting on a bus along the national road 1 when the road was in extremely bad condition. I also have urged Kompong Cham province to get a part of the road fixed for the national road 7, while another part from Phnom Penh has yet to get fixed. If it is not to be fixed I would organize another meeting as such. I almost set up a bus meeting for the cabinet on issue of the national road 6A for similar reason.
That is why I demand that MEF to get some of their stuff to work with MPWT and some fund should be disbursed to the office of PWT at the provincial level and inspection could be conducted in retrospect. If we were to wait for evaluation first before disbursing fund, we would not be able to get the job done and done right. But I also warn provincial Governors that in this instance they should not divert fund for other purposes or their own interests.
Last year we have a growth of 60 billion Riels but in 2007, road maintenance fund has gone up to 85 billion Riels and because we have longer road to fix than before too. That is why reducing issue of overloaded vehicle would play a great deal in making use of the fund. I keep on hearing comments that there is a concern about the fact that Cambodian would soon have fuel as its resource. I would say again that what we should be afraid and concerned of is when the country does not have a resource. We have fed our children since when we had nothing in hand but now we have gold we know how to manage it in an effective manner
They are concerned that Cambodia is not making good use of fuel resource and I am grateful for that. One other remark was that Hun Sen would not listen to western advice so it is clear that they wanted us to listen to them. We fish in shallow water to feed our children and they all are growing well since 1979 and I do not think we could not manage it when we have gold. All rural roads must be asphalted. But those who say they are concerned are not those who live inside the country but those from outside.
I just remind them that do not take everyone to be incompetent. Some people are coming from countries where poverty level is very high and there is no security. Some could not make peace in their own countries but claim to be adviser on peace for us. I tell them if you talk about this matter I could give you recommendations on that because I used to work on transforming from war to peace./.