… Once again I wish to give my sincere thanks and appreciation for the people of the Kandal province for taking their time to be present here today. Once again, the Japanese Ambassador HE Takahashi Fumiaki and I are present here to officially put into use the two bridges that were started to build on December 6, 2005 or one year and 20 days after the groundbreaking ceremony. We also preside over the groundbreaking ceremony to build another segment of 42 Kilometers of the national road 1 – the second stage NR 1 construction between the district of Kien Svay and Neak Loeng (the ferry cross at the lower Mekong River on the part of Cambodia that is connecting to the other part of the road on the eastern side of the river). I wish to take this opportune moment to express to the people and Government of Japan for their generous assistance to the people and the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia. HE Ambassador just mentioned for your information about the Japanese assistance to Cambodia from 1993.
In just one year and 20 days I have accompanied HE Fumiaki to inaugurate and to officiate groundbreaking of nine projects – 1) on December 6, 2005 we were here to officiate the two bridge constructions, 2) on February 21, 2006, we inaugurated JICA’s office in Cambodia at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, 3) on March 09, 2006, we inaugurated the water reservoir at Tropeang Thmor in the province of Banteay Mean Chey, 4) on March 27, 2006 we inaugurated the Clean Water System in Siemreap province, 5) on March 28, 2006 we inaugurated Phnom Penh Technical School of Medical Care , 6) on April 26, 2006 we inaugurated the segment of 51 kilometers of the NR 2 from Takeo to Phnom Den at the border with Vietnam, 7) on May 1, 2006 we officiated the construction of the one-stop service office in the Sihanoukville Sea Port, 8) on June 15, 2006 we officiated the construction of a Referral Hospital at Mongkul Borei and 9) is the today’s event.
There are also many other projects that the HE the Japanese Ambassador have officiated with other Cambodian leaders. It is therefore reasonable to say that Japan is the biggest donor in relation to development and poverty reduction for the Kingdom of Cambodia. Today for instance we put into use officially the bridges in Samraong Thom commune of Kien Svay district. As far as the NR 1 is concerned we have planned for a three stage construction – the part that was done between Neak Loeung and the border with Vietnam in the province of Svay Rieng, the part that is being done of the 42 Kilometers between Kien Svay and Neak Loeung and the third part to be implemented is another 13 kilometers from Kien Svay to the Bridge of Munivong – the entrance to Phnom Penh.
Just now HE Fumiaki Takahashi mentioned and I quote: “I have the privilege to join with Samdech, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and honorable guests with happy news that the Royal Government of Japan has decided to grant Cambodia’s request for the construction of the Neak Loeung Bridge over the Mekong River.” I could say that the three stage development is now complete and we have now come to the fourth one. I hope the fourth stage will happen at a similar time with the stage 3. I remembered requesting the construction of the Neak Loeung Bridge to former Prime Minister HE Koizumi in 2001 at the Cambodia’s Consultative Group Meeting in Tokyo. The whole length of requested road has been 56 Kilometers between Phnom penh and Neak Loeung. Because of a sincere understanding of the Cambodian hardship, the Royal Government of Japan decided to provide this bridge of Neak Loeung as non-interest assistance. Thank you very much Your Excellency the Ambassador for making this known to us today.
First we have planned to inaugurate these bridges on December 18 but because of the rescheduling of the ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit in the Philippines we have also advanced it to December 16 so that I could host the visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam on December 18 instead. According to the previous schedule, the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe could have informed me about this decision if we were to meet according to plan in Cebu, the Philippines. But it is no use waiting that the Ambassador of Japan HE Takahashi Fumiaki chose to make it known to us all today. We welcome this news with great enthusiasm and joyfulness.
The NR 1 – as far as Cambodia is concerned – connects the eastern part of the country which is divided by the Mekong River to the western part of Cambodia at the connecting point of Prey Veng and Kandal provinces. Prior to this, we have the Kizuna Bridge at Kompong Cham province which does the same function up north between the two sides of the river. If it concerns the Mekong Sub-region it is important as it connects countries along the Mekong or as in Asia. HE the Ambassador said it would not allow Tokyo to get to Bulgaria and Turkey on land for the missing chain. That is why Cambodia has a share in this connecting effort so as to speed up integrating it internally and also facilitating Cambodia’s economics while integrating it in the framework of the Mekong Sub-region as a Highway in Asia that connects from Japan through to Turkey.
Let me now turn to the two bridges. During the time of flood in 2000, HE Lim Kean Hor and HE Khim Bo (Governor of Kandal) could have remembered that we cut open this road or else Phnom Penh would risk being flooded because the flood took a high speed and the dyke that protect Phnom Penh from the north was not yet done. We also had the threat, if not from the northern dyke of Phnom Penh, from the fact that flood could overflow the capital from before the Royal Palace. It is learned at that very time that the flood current was clogged at this point and I had ordered for the cut-open of the system here. On the NR 2, we also had flood from the western part of Phnom Penh, where it run through the Prek Ataing canal. I ordered HE Lim Kean Hor Minister of Water Resources to cut-open another segment of the NR 2. There is now at that place a bridge instead of the reconstruction of the road.
The bridges have indeed two important functions – 1) to improve traffic circulation because of its width of 14 meters and 2) to serve as a water outlet system which brings silt and water to the lower part, this is to mention also current that brings baby fish to natural reservoirs on the other side. We have indeed a lot of baby fish that are bred in the upper part of the river. The fish eggs flowed with the flood current to Vietnam for our system could not capture them all. They are all dead once they arrived in Vietnam for the sea water current which meets with the Mekong part there. I suggest that HE Fumiaki informed the tax-payers in Japan that the two bridges plus two canals have brought about changes to our ways of life especially fish catch.
I wish to thank all the construction companies from Japan for their efforts to get their plan implemented in a speedy manner. They have planned for a longer but always completed them in a shorter period. I also thank our people, the local authority, the Ministries of Public Works and Transports as well as the Committee bearing the responsibilities to resolve all issues concerned along the road headed by HE Nhean Leng for their cooperation and the relocation of the people’s residences with appropriate compensation. I would not believe at all for a development without first concentrating on infrastructure. We have two infrastructures to think of – 1) hard and one soft. The hard infrastructure includes bridge, road, canal, school, hospital, etc. 2) soft one is legal framework, norms, etc.
It is important to inform you all that we have to provide counterpart fund though the project is to be implemented either with grant or with loan. Japan has projected a sum of 68 million US dollars for the construction of the road and bridges but the Royal Government also shared its counterpart fund in resolving projected areas along the road.
As far as road maintenance is concerned we have planned twice the budget from last year (last year 40 billion Riel) because we have longer road to maintain. I once organized a Cabinet meeting on a bus along the NR 1 so we all could see how bad it was. The same has been planned for the NR 6A and I learned that they have done repairing it now. The most important factor in reducing the damages of NR is that we have to start with over-loaded trucks and not with the system of weighting the trucks. I would urge companies or institutions with heavy trucks – civil, army and police – to respect the rules for transportation. An action to be taken is any trucks overload limit must be reprimanded by closing down the companies themselves. I saw a report from HE Sun Chan Thol that the fine from overloading trucks has come to 300 million Riels. What can we do with this money? The amount is too small to fix our roads. I warn all companies – the Mong Rithy Company also included. We should not care about the 500 Companies heads but the 14 million populations.
We have here Senators Kong Triv and Men Sarun and they have trucks. If their trucks are to be verified as overload, their Companies would be closed down as an example to others. I warned them not to seek intervention as I would not allow it absolutely. I also warned of actions that lower rank officials collect money for senior ones. The road is first of all damaged by overload trucks and we understand if it is damaged by natural disaster. I urge all ministries concerned to look into this matter. It is indeed impressing that we have a boom of construction of lodgment and apartments but overloaded trucks with sand also put our road in wearing-out condition as well. All transport companies have to have a contract with concerned authorities so that their offenses would be punished or we could not afford to find money to rebuild roads at all.
As far as sand is concerned I have a report that there are companies that pump sand up from the river plateau and they do not give a damn to environmental problem, let alone the river shore erosion. In Lovea Em district, people are unhappy with this and HE Dul Koen informed me about it. I instructed HE Gen. Police Head Hok Lungdy to oversee and they captured about 30 pieces of equipments. Land erosion is dangerous and it could further threaten the NR 1 in the future. We should also look into the issue of those groups performing this business without licenses. There are many Deputy Governors in each province and they should be delegated with real works and responsibilities. The province should make use of powers bestowed upon them as they have police, military police and army under their authorities.
From now on we have to make use of our potentials to build infrastructure – which means water, road, electricity and human resources. Our country is in peace and we sent our troops to Sudan in the UN mission in keeping peace out there. In 1979, the NR 1 had a different kind of difficulty as the width of the road was between six or seven meters. We now planned to enlarge it to between 14 meters and 29 meters. It will be the widest road in Cambodia. The segment between Phnom Penh and Neak Loeung will be the widest road. In other places we enlarged them from six or seven meters to eleven meters but we still have problem of congestion. In 1979, roads of six or seven meters width was not at all narrow for there was no vehicle. But now we have a high rate of incidents – ranking number two after HIV/AIDS. We have used most of the blood donated by generous people from the blood bank for those injured by traffic accidents.
The same is true for waste management. In 1979 there were no wastes in Phnom Penh because there was nothing to eat. In Phnom Penh now, if they were to leave the waste uncollected for two or three days, the city is full of waste disposals. In 1979 there were no heavy trucks that damage the roads too. As of today some trucks damaged our roads at its 50 ton load.
Samdech Hun Sen offered a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Veal Sbov, a shool building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Dey Ed and a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Koki.