… I think everyone is pleased with a new achievement today – the Doeam Sdao Bridge, which ends difficult passage for people in the region. Those who have resettled here can go to Phnom Penh and return to Koh Sotin or the area together with family to visit the native village by land. Personally I am glad to see that the wish of our people has been realized. The bridge has been under construction for about 117 days and it is ready for our people to use. As the flood has come early this year, the dike that was built for our people to cross while the bridge was under construction was blown away. As of today the situation where our people are facing difficulties in rainy as well as in dry seasons is over.
… In 1982 when traveling to Memot, Dambe and to O Raing Ov and returning to Koh Sotin, I had to cross the river with a small bridge. HE Preap Pichey was then the Governor of Kompong Cham. How would like me to travel along the river back to the city of Kompong Cham. There were then many illegal checkpoints and they even opened fire on our team. It was because of this incident that I have declared that all illegal checkpoints, which demand bribes from people, must be stopped. At that time I was a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, so how difficult and scared could it be for the people in general. I was born in the countryside and I happened to see all this in my life and I am sure people in other places also encounter similar difficulties.
… I could foresee the construction of bridges for at least another 40,000 meters for the next ten years and by then I think we will be able to say that problems of passing across water ways and the connection of road access in the country is in a better condition. Otherwise our people would still be in a situation of market inaccessibility for the products they have produced. I may request HE Sun Chanthol of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport who is present here to make a rough estimate on how many bridges would need to be built across the small river (a branch of the Mekong River that comes from Kompong Cham at Koh Sotin down to Peam of Prey Veng Province) as it stretches from Kompong Cham to Kandal and to Prey veng. According to my understanding I would like to have a bridge in between every four or five kilometers as nowadays the people have to go five to ten kilometers to get to the crossing point.
Having said that does not exactly mean Hun Sen will build more bridges here right now because we have more bridges demand in Ratanakiri, Mundulkiri, Stung Treng, Kratie, and just for the road to Koh Nhek (of Mundulkiri) we need to build about 400 meters of Bailey bridges. For the 110 km road between Snuol and Mondulkiri we need another 300 meters of Bailey bridges. I begged the Cabinet members during the first Cabinet meeting on July 16 that they must be patient with the small size meeting room because we have to save up money to build bridges for our people – like the Doeum Sdao Bridge here today. This is the Government’s objective to narrow the gaps between the rich and the poor through an equitable distribution of the economic growth between rural and urban areas. This was the implementation of the second angle of the second-term triangular strategy, and infrastructural development has in this term become one angle. The cost of building four bridges – Doeum Sdao, Takao, Ta Koch and Pongro, would be more than enough to build a modern office of the cabinet but if we have done so our people would not have bridges to cross the river.
… I used to live in this area and I know full well how life-cost incident could happen because of the inability to travel across the river. People could talk to each other from one side of the river to another but they could not commute to one another as quick as they wish to. Take for instance a woman in labor may have some problems and needs to be taken to a hospital as quick as possible. But because of the lack of road and bridges, she may lose her life or baby, etc. HE Yu Hockry, having served as co-minister for interior for the last two term and is today helping on issues relating to border, used to be Head of the District in 1960’s and knows full well the situation here. In 1969, under the leadership of HM the King Norodom Sihanouk as Head of State, there was an intention to build the bridge right here but it was not happening because of man-made disasters – the coup and the war. As we now have achieved peace, we could not only secure that the bridges and roads can be built but also guarantee that no damages would be brought up because of wars.
… I often mention that those who join in the current Government are not being offered new cars, etc. because the Government needs to address the people’s need like road, bridges, etc. It is true that sitting in the Cabinet Meeting is a little hot in such a small room, but it is far better than people working in the field… I am glad to hear that the military engineering team working here has enjoyed the hospitality from our people. I learned that some have brought for them the Khmer noodle or traditional sticky rice, etc. Though the amount is small but the heart of our people and monks are profound. We have two values here that meet one another. The value of the Ministries of National Defense, Public Works, and Economy and Finance is indeed reflected in their adherence to obligation. Our citizen and monks also have shown their value of sentiment and morale. Therefore the military engineering team feels encouraged.