Samdech Hun Sen presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of two bridges in the district of Kien Savy along the national road 1 between Phnom Penh and Neak Loeung. Samdech Prime Minister recalled about the 2000 flood and its damages, he requests for the Japanese assistance in building the remaining segment of the national road 1 between Phnom Penh and Neak Loeung, and the bridge of Neak Loung itself as part of the ASEAN highway or the East-West corridor in the Mekong Sub-region framework.
… First of all, on the occasion of the Japanese Emperor’s birthday, the Japanese National Day and the bridges’ construction today are at the financial support of Japan, I would like to take this solemn occasion to express my best wishes to the Emperor and the Japanese people. My wife and I are really happy today to see that we are opening construction sites of two more bridges out of several of them to be built at the grant aid of the Royal Government of Japan to the Royal Government of Cambodia. Reconstruction of a number of other bridges will start sometimes in January, for which I have offered the opportunity to Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, in his capacity as a co-chairman of the Cambodia Development Council (CDC) to preside over some of the groundbreakings – for example the one at Prek Ho in the district of Takhmao, Kandal province.
… The two big bridges – the 103-meter long bridge in the commune of Koki Thom and 68-meter long bridge in the commune of Samraong Thom – in the district of Kien Svay of Kandal province will cost about 796 million Yens or almost 7 million US dollars. The road was damaged by a severe flood in 2000, and the proposal was made to the Japanese Government in 2002, in one of my visit to Japan for the Consultative Group meeting in Tokyo. I proposed to Prime Minister Koizumi that Japan builds the national road 1 and bridges from Phnom Penh to Neak Loeung. Though the whole request has yet to be answered, we have now two bridges damaged by the 2000 flood under construction.
… I wish to take this happy occasion to express my sincere thanks for our people’s understanding – those from Prey Veng province, Svay Rieng, and along the lower part of the national road as well as those in Phnom Penh and the upper part of the road that we had to cut open to let the flood go through for the sake of assuaging the flood level that threatened the capital of Phnom Penh. There was no better option than that. One part of the national road, in the renovated segment on the eastern side of the Mekong River was also blown open by flood. Phnom Penh was at that time a small island while the provinces along the Mekong River and around the Tonle Sap lake were all but flooded.
… HE Ambassador of Japan mentioned in his speech that this place is prone to flood, so strict technical consideration must be observed, while paying attention to finding out where is best to let the water to flow from one side of the road to another. In fact some were built under the French, but when Pol Pot was in power he ordered most of them sealed. I could recall that I requested for the Japanese assistance in building the road as well as the bridge across the Mekong River at Neak Loeung. After consecutive meetings and requests made to HE Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Japan, the Japanese Government finally declared that it offers 130 million US dollars for the request. The project will be sequenced in three parts – first, the construction of the two bridges with the total length of 171 meters, second, the construction of a part of the national road 1 – between the Koki Thom commune of Kien Svay district and the district of Leuk Dek. This project will commence in November 2006. Third, we will have the construction of the 13 Kilometer road from the eastern side of the bridge of Preah Monivong to the commune of Koki Thom.
… Why should there be three parts? It was because we have to resolve some of the land that is going to be the road feeders. In my capacity as the Prime Minister of the former State of Cambodia I signed a sub-decree to determine the width of the national road to be 25 meters. However the sub-decree had not been observed and construction of houses stretched into the road’s areas. I have offered another one million for resolving the road related issues and another one million for the same purpose to Siemreap. I wish to appeal to our people living along the road to spare some understandings so that it could be built in a smooth way. This will not only be the road for Cambodia, but an ASEAN highway known as the East-West corridor in the framework of the Sub-Mekong Region as well.
… May I also reiterate our fourth proposal for the construction of the Neak Loeung bridge which is currently under a study as there would not be a ASEAN highway or East-West corridor as well. Cambodia could also not connect its west to eastern side of the Mekong River at that point. I have listed a range of options for the Japanese Government to consider – first, the Japanese will grant us 100% for the bridge’s construction, second, offers us grant of 50% or 70% and the rest in loan 50% or 30%, third, the whole cost could be provided as loan, and it could be a fourth option to have 70% in grant and Cambodia will make it up 30%. But to Cambodia, the first option is the best.
… Cambodia is in its efforts to make development in water, electricity, road and human resources – which had been listed out since 1987. We now have two more – industry and handicraft – still the last two will depend on the four elements mentioned above. We need water, roads, electricity and human capability. As we have all seen that the road construction has got the Royal Government’s attention as I used to conduct a cabinet meeting on a bus between Phnom Penh and Kompong Phnom to show then Ministers for Transports and Public Works and Finance how bad was the condition of the road close to Phnom Penh. I wish that we have a strong road and bridge maintenance mechanism or we will have small holes in the roads becoming an elephant’s cave in time.
… It is not fair to place all the problems on the lower level officials. I would not rebuke them but senior level officials. Sometimes it was not fair take for instance the fifty-fifty road construction in the city. People already contributed their parts but we do not have the money from our part. We should give the city’s major rights to use fund for things like that if we have given them power to command police, soldier and military police. If they fail to use them according to the rules and regulations, let’s bring them to court. I hope the Ministry of Finance and Economy will come up with a system that is smoother at my recommendation. Now that we are at the stage of no political obstacles to resolve, no throne crisis at least for another 30 years, and border issues with the neighboring countries being resolved, efforts must be concentrated on reforms. Issues of gangsters have been taken to the spotlight and I have ordered for the cracking down of their actions and abolishing them root and branch.
… As far as road and bridge maintenance is concerned, the best mechanism is the one with active participation from all the people, especially those with huge transport vehicles. It requires a change in attitudes in the ministries concerned so that I do not have to issue order everyday. They should be a mechanism that is taking care of the roads and bridges regularly. It is my pleasure to learn that Japan offers to enlarge the national road 6A to a width of 11 meters from the current width of 7 meters. I have ordered all officials to keep their eyes on illegal checkpoints on the roads, now they have to look after the road condition as well. We will have soon the anti-corruption law but actions must be taken even before the law itself enters into force.
… In my book title “Ten Years of Cambodia’s Journey” published in July 1989 in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of January 1979, I wrote “what we should be afraid of was not the owners of passenger vehicles, but our people without any means of transports. We should be afraid of the people’s poverty.” At that time there was a tendency to slash the growth of transport means and ownership. Once again I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Royal Government and people of Japan that because of their generous assistance, Cambodia has achieved a high economic growth in five consecutive years.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offers a school building of five classrooms to the primary school of Samraong Thom, a school building of six classrooms to the college of Koki Thom, a school building of six classrooms to the college of Hun Sen-Prek Tunloap, a red soil covered road of 2600 meters to the village of Popeal Khe.