The Sangha Hospital Overpass
My wife and I are so happy to be here with all of you to celebrate the groundbreaking construction ceremony of the second overpass at the Sangha Hospital intersection. Last June, at the inauguration of the first overpass at the Kbal Thnal intersection, I have said there where there is one, there will be second one and more will follow. This development project is indeed a justification that Cambodia has developed to a situation that is different from when it was in 1979.
If there were not many cars or any transport means, there is no need for us to widen the road or even build these overpasses at all. Along with the development in which there are more transport means in the country, it also reflects people’s living condition to be better. The situation has now required our full attention in organizing road network so as to avert traffic problem and accidents. Thanks to better living condition, our people are looking for personal means for transportation. According to the information I have here, while 2010 has yet to pass, tens of thousands of 2011 version motorbikes have been sold out.
As is reported by HE Kep Chuktema, the Phnom Penh Mayor, the second overpass will be 345 meter long along the Russian Federation Boulevard, 15.2 meter in width, and 5.5 meter in height, and there are four lanes for traffics, two for each direction. There is also a 160 meter long and 6 meter wide truncation to the Kampuchea Kraom Boulevard with one lane for four wheel vehicles and another for motorbikes to leave the overpass in parallel direction only. The cost for this project is 8,705,808 USD. The construction timeframe will be 13 months.
The Third Overpass at Stoeng Meanjei Bridge
As of today HE Kep Chuktema has requested my permission to build the third overpass at the Stoeng Meanjei Bridge (at the southern part of Phnom Penh) for the sake of relieving traffic congestion. I agree in principle for a study to be conducted and we will discuss further as to how do we go about looking for fund to get it constructed.
Wrapping Palm Sugar with Its Leaf
In order to cut short administrative procedure, I have allowed the Mayor of Phnom Penh to come to my house three times to get things done. From his first visit we have come up with the new Monivong Bridge. The second visit has brought about the first overpass at Kbal Thnol and the third visit has resulted in today’s event to build the second overpass at the Sngha Hospital intersection.
We have decided to use the method of wrapping palm sugar with palm leaf. By this I mean we have made use of the money from Phnom Penh city development, i.e. the development of Koh Pij, to build the new Monivong Bridge, one overpass at Kbal Thnol and this one at Sangha Hospital intersection. Hopefully, this will indeed improve traffics along this road that no traffic lights would be necessary any more.
Improve Living Condition of the Poor
We are now approaching 2011 and also the 32nd anniversary of January 7 victory, when Cambodia came out of the Pol Pot’s genocide. Phnom Penh at that time was a city where there were no dwellers. It was because of this reason, traffic accident was less frequent. As of the moment of speaking, Phnom Penh has changed into a new city with busy traffic and traffic accidents and congestions have become almost regular. This should be a thesis to deny what some people have said that Cambodia is getting poorer.
I do not understand how could one is poorer than when s/he was in 1979. Everyone back then was 100% poor. Now our poverty line has been readjusted to somewhere at 26%, which means that more than 70% of our people have come out of poverty already. Under Pol Pot’s regime, because they implemented their class theory of equality, no one was allowed to go on with his/her status as rich man or woman. They removed people from the cities and evacuated them from place to place while ripping them off their personal belongings. They make rich people to be equally poor.
As for what we have been doing is different. We are trying to improve the poor’s way of life and living condition, because making them equal is not achievable. There are millionaires in every country and they are not people with four or five million or 1,000 million like in our country. They have up to ten of billions. However, let me share with you that, despite there are so many billionaires, those countries are still coping with issue of poverty as we could still see that there are beggars too.
Phnom Penh Goes Horizontal and Vertical
Phnom Penh has astonishingly developed. Its electric consumption has grown from some 50 MW to some 300 MW already. With upcoming almost 1,000 MW to be lined in from hydroelectric plant in Koh Kong province, where I was yesterday to seal the dam for the construction of the Russei Jrum Kaom hydro power plant, and which only a small amount would be consumed by Koh Kong and Pursath province, I think Phnom Penh will be expanding its development horizontally and vertically.
Going horizontal, as you all can see, Phnom Penh has changed its landscape from many empty fields into concentration of factories. Take for instance area near Stoeng Meanjei (southern suburb of Phnom Penh), which used to be rice field, has now become a zone of factories. As Prime Minister I have approved the enlargement of the Phnom Penh city boundary four times already. Firstly, I approved the inclusion of Porchentong (now Phnom Penh) international airport and Dangkao district of Kandal province into Phnom Penh, secondly, I approved the inclusion of Prek Tasek of Muk Kampoul and Punnhea Loeu districts of Kandal province, thirdly, I approved the inclusion the Extraordinary Chamber in the Court of Cambodia (the Khmer Rouge Trial Court) too, because it locates in Kandal province and the law has been inquired that the court must be within Phnom Penh city. Fourthly, I have approved the inclusion to Phnom Penh of an additional 20 communes from Kandal province.
Phnom Penh goes vertical is when we see that, aside from filling in empty lots, many storey buildings have grown up. According to statistics, there have been hundreds of buildings that are ten floors and over. There are over ten buildings that are twenty floors and over. There are buildings of 42 floors and 30 floors, and there have been projects to go for 57 floors and even 100 floors. That is what I mean Phnom Penh is going vertical.
Ready for Upcoming Hosting Events
I am sure the construction activity will be busy and all concerned institutions will make sure the project is ready as scheduled because Cambodia will be hosting the ASEAN Summit in April 2012, and then in October and November of the same year, we will host various ASEAN + meetings, which include regular partners like China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, and two new partners – the United States of America and Russia. As you can see now that many foreign leaders and their delegations will be coming to ASEAN and ASEAN related events that Cambodia will be hosting and chairing as well.
As we have a tight schedule to fulfill this task and many major events to host, I would like to take this occasion to appeal to our people to provide cooperation ad participation in all actions that are relating to this construction project. I would seek understanding from students, professors and leaders of the Royal University of Phnom Penh on the fact that the construction site and activity will surely cause them some disturbances. This should also be the same for people who are living in area around the project site.
Cambodian Way of Getting Things Done
Just now I asked HE Im Setthi, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, about the library project of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. He said that the construction will be ready in 2011. In fact the Mohiba company took only months to build a library at the cost of some 400,000 USD for me here. As for the one provided by the World Bank, earmarked to be ready in 2007, has taken us till 2010, and it is not yet ready still. I would leave it to them so that our students and people will see how difficult it is to make use of fund provided by foreign sources. It is also a good example for our people to see how soon can it be done if it were from own money and expertise.
If the library construction is ready in 2012, I think it is even better as we will inaugurate the overpass at the Sngha intersection before this one-million project library. However, in the meantime, students and teachers can still make use of resources that are available in the Hun Sen library. I would instruct the Council of Ministers to arrange for our students to visit the Office of the Prime Minister, the Santepheap Building, in order to see and evaluate what has been done by Cambodian architects, builders and resources. The National Assembly has also been exposed to architectural students too.
I stayed up late till 1 am to get a general architectural concept for the design of the Santepheap building, which I presented to the meeting the following day. I have come up with designs and conceptual frameworks for every designated segment or office room. I have even included special room in accession for Muslim to exercise their religious practice too. We have one room for female and another room for male Muslim./.