Please allow me to sincerely thank HE Jan Jing Feng, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Cambodia, for her well-wishing remarks in commemoration of the 56th anniversary of the Cambodian National Independence. I also wish to share my joy with our people here today that finally we have come together to celebrate the groundbreaking for the construction of the national road (NR) 78 from O Pong Moan of Stoeung Treng to Bann Lung of Ratanakiri province.
I am so moved by the report by HE Tram Eev Toeuk, Minister for Transport and Public Works as well as that of HE Ambassador of PRC about joining efforts in getting what we wanted to do here starts today. On April 29, 2008, HE Jang, Ambassador of PRC, and I came together to Stoeung Treng to put into official use the segment of 196 kilometers of national road 7 and a bridge over the Sekong River, which I used to mention of as part of our efforts to transform this part of the country that we compare it to a dragon tail.
When we started building this road, by the Shanghai Company, I met with HE Premier Wen Jiabao in Singapore. It was in 2005 and Cambodia was a coordinating country between ASEAN and China. I have had many chances to meet with HE Wen Jiabao. We have done a lot of works whereas the Sino-ASEAN exhibition commemorating relations between PRC and ASEAN has been one of them. I took that chance to seek his approval of the Cambodian request for loan for the construction of the NR 78. He said let’s wait till we finish building the last segment of the NR 7. What we are doing here is to materialize the discussion I had with HE Premier Wen Jiabao. The last segment of the NR 7 was done in 2008 and this road starts in 2009 – only one year later.
HE Minister Tram Eev Toeuk has already filed us a report of how this NR 78 is being built through the territory of three provinces – Stoeung Treng, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. The cost of building the road is 73.3 million US dollars with concession loan from PRC, and 5% of counterpart fund from Cambodia. This will not include taxes on construction equipments and cost of mine and UXOs clearances which are bearing by Cambodia.
What benefit will this road provide? First let me talk about a common objective of getting the road built. As the country started to enjoy gradual peace, and later a complete peace, my vision has been that it would be impossible to integrate on political and administrative issues but there needs to have infrastructural development or integration would not be complete.
Roads and bridges are indeed our priorities because they will serve us in this purpose especially help with our objective of narrowing the gap between urban and rural areas, while moving rural area closer to urban and vice versa. This also serves our second purpose of facilitating Cambodian integration into the region as well along with its internal integration. Therefore construction of NR 7 and/or 78 as well as various other roads serve the basic need for integration. The third objective here is that infrastructure is indeed a policy of redistribution of economic gains in a more equitable way. There nothing that could be more equitable than using our gain for infrastructural development. Rich or poor, VIP or ordinary people, all benefit from good roads and bridges.
Having said so, you may agree with me that sole political integration would not be adequate. It is important that the administration gives serious consideration and tries to bridge the gap so that the central administration would not be seen as neglecting those in the rural areas. Such a gap would be causing a great misunderstanding. Hatred between rural and urban, if we were to apply this with a revolutionary theory, could be very damaging.
Road network serves the purpose of both internal and neighborly integration. After so many years of hardship today we have the chance to change those hardships into development. In one of my visits here with HE Bou Thang, MP of Ratanakiri, in the past, many parts of dirt road were not there but only trails along villages. Gradually, in place of trails, roads have been traced and were initially covered with coarse soil. Now they are being asphalted one after the other. As for here we no longer need to go on with red coarse soil. The road has now been enlarged from six-meter wide to eleven meters. We also have many bridges replaced by concretes.
Once it is completed, right away it will serve the integration between Stoeung Treng and Mondulkiri, and Ratanakiri provinces. Also because a section of road from Baan Lung to the border with Vietnam is in progress and will be inaugurated next year, a connection will be established also with Vietnam. It will serve purpose of transportation either from Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri to Vietnam or to the seaport in the province of Preah Sihanouk.
I wish to raise another example of corridor along the sea that serves the purpose of neighborly integration. The NR 48 from Koh Kong province comes to the NR 4 and could go on through NR 3 until the border with Vietnam. It is the shortest corridor between Vietnam and Thailand via Cambodia.
As far as the NR 78 is concerned, aside from its significance in integrating the above three provinces and between Cambodia and Vietnam, I wish to bring up again my mythology of the Cambodian geographical setup where this area is considered tail part of a dragon, and its head is at the Preah Sihanouk province. This road will serve as a left leg of the dragon which will connect the area in northeast to the central part and onto other parts of the country.
The three provinces of Stoeung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri have been registered already in the triangle (three-countries-border-point) development among Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. But I would suggest that we should also include Kratie province. I need HE Kham Phoeun, Governor of Kratie, to get required tools prepared. As far as I know, one more province will be proposed to be included from two other countries – Laos and Vietnam. Therefore, as is mentioned by HE Tram Eev Toeuk, the road will also serve our purpose in reaching out to the triangle development target.
I would like to take this chance to thank, through HE Ambassador, to the leaders of the PRC for their understanding and offering to help Cambodia in solving its problem. I would also inform our people that China has built the longest road in Cambodia – up to 1,500 kilometers. We have putting ten projects of 1,255 kilometer road under construction, including one that is built by Cambodia itself. In 2010, we have projected to build eleven more roads of 921 kilometers, seven of which will be sponsored by China. As you can see China is taking a leading and important role in infrastructural development in Cambodia. We have so many groundbreakings and inaugurations to do in 2010 – that would be NR 66, 68, 57, 8, Bridges at Prek Tamak and Prek Kadam.
China has the biggest capital in the world. While it has been predicted and observed that some countries have negative growth, China seems to have achieved still positive one at around 8%. Not only does China not hold back its financial assistance but also increases its capital for developing countries up to 15 billion US dollars. ASEAN in particular has received 5 billion US dollars, with a new pledge of 1.7 billion. Cambodia is among those that benefit from the Chinese assistance. I also take this moment to thank the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh for providing assistance to the Cambodian Red Cross.
In my negotiation with Premier Wen Jiabao, he has provided a grant of 50 million Yuan and another non-interest loan of 50 million Yuans, which I have instructed to be used for post-flood rehabilitation and Ketsana typhoon disasters in Cambodia. I also take this chance to thank the Chinese company of Shanghai Construction for fulfilling their tasks in a timely and efficient manner.
As I am in Stoeung Treng now please allow me to share with, the people of Stoeung Treng, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri and other provinces along the Mekong River, your hardship caused by both rain and seasonal flooding leaving us damage of infrastructures. Kompong Cham province has had some damage but the level of damage caused by natural calamity this year has been severe in Kompong Thom province./.