Please let me offer my heartfelt congratulation to the delegation of the Shanghai Company and friends. I also would like to share this joy with our people of all ages who have come here in honor of the last segment connection of the new Chinese assisted bridge at Prek Kdam, which is to be officially named the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Kdam.
We will call all bridges across the river “the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge” at various points along the river. For instance we named the bridge at Sekong in Steong Treng “the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Sekong” – the first bridge ever built there. We also will have another bridge named “the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Tamak,” the construction of which was launched before this bridge. And this is the third bridge that is named similarly at Prek Kdam. If we have five more bridges to be built, we will name them all “the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge.”
I was here to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony on June 11, 2007 and if I were to recall what happened then, in just two weeks we launched two major bridge constructions – Prek Tamak on June 6, 2007 and Prek Kdam on June 11, 2007. Minister of Public Works and Transports, HE Tram Iv Toeuk, has said in his report that about 89% of the construction has already been done and the final stage will be complete in April 2010. But I have a confirmation here from the contractor that they will be able to finish the bridge before the 2010 Khmer New Year and I am grateful for that.
I may share with you a little history on how this bridge has come into being. In April 2006, Prime Minister of China, HE Wen Jiabao, conducted a visit to Cambodia. Aside from providing other financial packages and investment, such as the construction of the Council of Ministers’ Building, the Kamjai hydropower plant, he set aside 200 million US dollars for Cambodia as credit for infrastructural construction. We have divided the amount into one part for the construction of the bridge at Prek Kdam and another for the construction of a bridge at Prek Tamak and the National Road 8. It is a brand new road that there has not been before. We also set a part for the construction of the NR 76 from Snuol to Sen Monorom of Mondulkiri and another NR 57, formerly NR 10 from Battambang to Pailin and on to the border with Thailand.
Later we had been provided with another sum of 100 million dollar loan during one of my visits to China, which I use for building the NR to Preah Vihear province. After the agreement came into force, as we see it in front of us, the speed of construction has been noticeably fast. Because we have the bridge construction site shown on TV both locally and internationally, no one could make a joke out of these important projects.
My point here is why have we assigned the third legislature Royal Government and the following ones to be that of “Road and Hydrology”? It was because the twos are important.
In order to develop a country there is no choice but to develop infrastructure. China has a saying that if you want to be rich, first you have to build roads. Cambodia also has its saying that “where there is a road, there will be hope.” And our army at the border says “where there is road, there will be hope and victory.”
I have a memory from 1968-69, when I was about 16 or 17 years old. I traveled with my mentor the Venerable Jreng from Phnom Penh to Andoung Po in Kompong Thom province. It was a trip to a religious rite there. As a boy attending to the monk I had to follow him there. I remembered I had to sit in the coach section of a passenger bus and the bus had to wait for along time for the ferry to come from the other side of the river. I had no idea then that 41 years later I had the ability to get this river connected by a bridge.
Again in 1991, when Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and Samdech Preah Akka Mohesei Monineat Sihanouk returned to Cambodia, after staying a while in Phnom Penh, they were satisfied to travel to visit Kompong Cham. We traveled though Prek Kdam and was taken to the other side of the river by a ferry. Maybe that would be the last time that we had to cross the river by a ferry.
Now I would like make known to our people what China has done for infrastructure in Cambodia. They have done a lot not just roads and bridges. As far as road is concerned, already put into official use is the 196 kilometers of the NR 7 along with so many bridges, which include the 1,000 meters Sekong bridge. Those that are under construction include the NR 8, the brand new road that never exists before, which will run from Kandal to Prey Veng province and on to the border with Vietnam and also a connection will be extended to bridge with Punnhea Krek district of Kompong Cham province.
The NR 76 is also under construction which will run 127 kilometers from Snuol of Kratie to the provincial town of Sen Monorom of Mondulkiri. There is also this NR 62 and 210 which runs through Koh Ker and Tbeng Mean Jei of Preah Vihear province. Also under construction too, we have the NR 57 that runs between Battambang town and Pailin and on to the Cambodian-Thai border. We also have finished negotiation on the NR 78 from O Pong Moan of Stoeng Treng province to Ratanakiri, and it will be launching in November. Also earmarked to be constructed are extension roads from the NR 8 between Anlong Jrei and Punnhea Krek district of Kompong Cham, 18 kilometers, and from Krobao to Moeun Jei, 5 kilometers.
On the NR6 we already have a groundbreaking of construction of the part from Tbeng Mean Jei to Sa Em and on to Koh Ker at Siem Reap province. Now we are putting into operation another 128 kilometer road from Kompong Thom to Tbeng Mean Jei. The NR 3762 between Sen Monorom and Dak Dam of Mondulkiri or from the town to the border with Vietnam, another 26 kilometers, will be new a project. For what I have mentioned, in all, road construction with the help from China is 984 kilometers in length.
We still have 11 more projects under discussion with China which include the roads 57B which runs through Thmor Kol, Bovel, Sampeo Loun and Villave 30 – 179 kilometers, 59 from Kon Damrei, Melai, Sampeo Loun, Phnom Preouk, Kamrieng through to Pailin and the border with Thailand – 139 kilometers, the NR 6A from Phnom Penh to the cross section (to Kompong Cham) will be enlarged to four lanes – 40 kilometers. HE Wen Jiabao has not declared it in Pataya but notified the Governments of ASEAN nations that China will provide some 15 billion US dollars, whereas what I request is somewhere 400 million US dollars only.
We also have to enlarge the road 61 which is stretching from the eastern end of the bridge to the cross section because it is small, the NR 41 from Thnol Toteoung to Jum Kiri in Kompot, which is a road that is truncating from NR 4. We also have the NR 5 section between Phnom Penh and Prek Kdam Bridge to be enlarged to four-lane road – 30 kilometers. Also in the pipeline are the Ta Khmao Bridge and a bridge on the NR 21 – which makes them all 521 kilometer project under negotiation. If the projects were to be approved, we would have in all a total length of 15000 kilometers of road built by China and China is the country that builds the longest road segment in Cambodia.
As far as bridge I concerned, already in official use in the bridge over the Sekong River (1,057 meters) at Stoeng Treng, and those to be completed soon are the bridges at Prek Kdam (981 meters) and Prek Tamak (1,066 meters). We have had 800 million US dollars of Chinese financial credit for road, and about 100 million dollars for bridges. Including other sectors, roughly, I would come up with a figure of 6.7 billion US dollars that China has been providing to Cambodia.
Breaking down figures are 1.4 billion dollars in infrastructural sector, 4 billion dollars in tourism, close to 1 billion dollars in industry and close to 300 million dollars in agriculture. It is a big amount.
As for electricity, China is taking the lead in building hydropower plants for Cambodia. Already put into use is the one at Kirirum and the next one in line is at Komjai that I will preside over the inauguration of electricity generation by first turbine. It is planned to be completed in 2011 and its power generation will be 20 megawatts. We also have other power projects in Pursat whereby power of 700 mega watts would be produced. Gridline will be built all the way from Pursat to Kompong Chhnang and on to Phnom Penh. Also transmission line will be built between Pursat to Battambang province.
China has a way of doing thing. They talk less but do more. Before anyone knows it there we get bridges, roads, etc. They are all without conditions. In 1999 I met HE Ju Rongji who visited Cambodia in 2002. In fact I have had a good chance to be working with three generation leaders of China – HE Li Peng, HE Ju Rongji and the current Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. They all speak very simple language. They said whatever projects will be up to the Cambodians as long as they guarantee economic gain and reduce poverty. No conditions are placed. China respects Cambodian decision. This is the special characteristic of the Chinese.
Judging on this manner I have told the Chinese leaders that Chinese assistance not only helps Cambodia develop its socio-economic development but also Cambodian political independence as well. It is a great value and I appreciate what the Chinese have done for the poor and developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In fact if it were without trust, such a credit could not have happened. I have enjoyed working with the Chinese leaders. Cambodia has got 13 million people whereas China has got up to 1.3 billion people. It is easy to see that Cambodia is 1% of the Chinese figure.
But their nature and character expressed to us has always been friendly, cooperative, understanding and respectful. I have observed that the Chinese leaders, no matter who I have met, have been my seniors and they all said Excellency Hun Sen is an old friend of China. The expression has been a great value not only for me personally but for the whole Cambodian people. Any interpretation may do but one special element in this remark is the fact that it has brought to light the heritage of relationship from Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, who have implemented always one China policy up to the present, on which basis we could build up a lot more.
I will visit China in October to participate in an exhibition in Sichuan province. We have discussed a number of projects and if they were to be approved, we will sign agreements there and groundbreaking will take place upon my return. Many groundbreaking ceremonies will be held in the near future. I wish to thank ministries and institutions involved for making this project running smoothly. It is for your knowledge that Cambodia contributed a sum of 3 million dollars, while our Chinese friend provided 28 million dollars in the construction of the Prek Kdam Bridge.
Taking this chance, I would like to call on our people to take part in maintaining the bridge because it is our common property. We have three bridges across the Tonle Sap River – Jroy Janvar Bridge, Prek Kdam Bridge and Prek Pnov Bridge. We are studying the possibility to build another bridge at Jroy Jangvar. However may I have your attention on issue of overloading trucks and I have called HE Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, about long truck that they used to load animals like cows that caused a lot of trouble and damages to the road. Such company stands to be closed down if they go on doing so.
I would order the Ministry of Trade together with Ministry of Transports and Public Works to cooperate and bring companies in violation of rule and regulation to a closure as I do not trust on using weight lifting or measuring along the road. It is a machine and it is human that operates them. Cash would blind the machine reading. I take this time to declare to all companies with trucks to heed the rule and regulation.
On behalf of the people of Cambodia, in this opportune moment, I would like to express Cambodia’s thanks and gratitude through HE Ambassador Jang Jing Fang to the people and Government of the People’s Republic of China for their offers and efforts in helping Cambodia develop its infrastructure that are corresponding well to the four priorities put out in Cambodia – road, electricity, human resources and water …◉