26-M Wide Four-Lane NR 6
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to join with all of our people for this groundbreaking ceremony to enlarge the national road (NR) 6 to four lanes from Kilometer Post 4 (to be continuing from the Phnom Penh Municipality’s NR 6 enlargement project Site) through to Thnal Kaeng (in the province of Kompong Cham), which is 40.5 km. In just two weeks, HE Pan Guangxue and I have attended two major events – to put into official use the National Road 76 from Snuol of Kratie province to the city of Sen Monorom of Mondulkiri province. In the same event, we also laid to work the construction project for the remaining segment of the NR 76 from Sen Monorom to (Ta Ang of) the province of Ratanakiri too.
Fourteen days later, we are here to launch the enlargement project of the NR 6 to four-lane 26 meter width. Last year, Ambassdor Pan Guangxue, the Chinese chargé d’affaires and I have presided over 11 major events for that matter. I would like to take this opportune moment to declare, at the request of HE Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance, ending the existence of the national road segment 6A (before it was given to the segment of national road 6 from the bridge at Jroy Jangva to Thnal Kaeng of Kompong Cham province). As of now we have only national road 6, which runs from the bridge of Jroy Jangva in Phnom Penh through the provinces of Kandal, Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom, Siem Reap to Banteay Meanjei’s Serei Saophoan.
The road was named 6A as it was built under the popular socialist society of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk when the bridge at Jroy Jangva was built. The segment from Thnal Kaeng to Prek Kadam will then be named NR 61. Ambassador Pan Guangxue mentioned in his speech just now, I am so grateful for it, that the Chinese side is considering the provision of loan support for the project to enlarge the remaining segment of 260 km of the NR 6 into four lanes for Cambodia. This means that the NR 6 and bridges along will be upgraded to four lanes in the future.
I am so proud and happy to see that our country are changing everyday through the construction of infrastructures – both with own efforts and assistances provided by friends. The People’s Republic of China, particularly, has been providing the most and we have so many projects that are undergoing together. This NR 6 four-lane project is the result of the visit of HE Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Cambodia in 2009, at which time the 400 million USD agreements were signed for seven projects. To include the study for enlarging the NR 5 (Phnom Penh to Battambang and on to Banteay Meanjei provinces) into four lane project, it should count to be eight projects in all.
You may have noticed that it is not what some people think that we sign a deal today and will get the money the same day. We went into agreement in 2009 and the money has been disbursed for project funding in parts. Last Friday, the Cabinet meeting looked into the paper on preparing strategy to manage foreign debt for the period from 2011 through to 2018. As is stated in the paper, though we have accumulated so much fund, we have not used it all yet. Including the Chinese financial assistance, we have so far used only 60% of what have been agreed on loan. This four-lane NR 6 project is a good example as it was agreed upon since 2009 and it actually happened only today.
What concerns here is that the seven-meter wide national road, which was good for 1960s, 1970s or 1980s, is no longer applicable to the need for transportation. Though some of the roads have been enlarged to eleven meter width in 1990s, we still find them to be limited in response to the need. It is on this note that for certain length, the National Roads 5 and 6 out and around the capital of Phnom Penh must be enlarged to four lane roads aimed at addressing the need for high traffic volume.
During my trip to accompany HM the King to the province of Mondulkiri, I noticed that we have a good national road 8 with eleven meter width but we have conditions to be improved at the national road 11 – also present were Senior Minister HE Sun Chanthol, HE Im Chhunlim (Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction), HE Mok Maret (Minister of Environment), HE Tia Banh (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense), HE Sar Kheng (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior), HE Chan Sarun (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), HE Chea Sophara (Minister of Rural Development) – where bridges need to be rebuilt to larger size, and efforts must be made to accumulate fund to enlarge the road thereafter.
Returning from Mondulkiri province, I sought the time to meet with President of the China Exim Bank (Export-Import Bank of China) and invite him to a dinner, which is totally unusual as I only dine with counterpart guests, where Ambassador Pan Guangxue was also present. I found it important to sit with the President of the Bank as he is the one who manages both bilateral and ASEAN-related loans. China has so far earmarked loans of ten billion USD for ASEAN countries, four billion USD of which is preferential buyer’s credit loan. China has moved away from its previous defining quota for countries to have access the fund. China now declares to work on no quota as some among the ASEAN ten members may not need to borrow money from China.
Regarding quota and proportion of population, a country like Cambodia would have a meager portion to the fund. It is a good thing that now China makes it first come first served. Therefore, I am privileged to inform the Chinese friend that Cambodia is submitting seven more projects calling for five hundred million USD, in which the four-lane enlargement of NR 6 from Thnal Kaeng to Siem Reap city is its priority.
In my meeting with the China Exim Bank’s President I told him about the significant role the NR 6 plays in the Cambodian economy. I also exchanged with him about the care and consideration of the Chinese leaders – HE Li Peng, HE Ju Rongji, and HE Wen Jiabao – who always place high respect for and make effort to positively respond to Cambodia’s request for (financial) assistance of economic benefits. China always responds to projects judged to be Cambodia’s priority.
Now we should look into how the Chinese assistance helps connect Phnom Penh capital to the country’s northeastern area. I brought this to your attention for you to understand background efforts and stories. In fact the Chinese have helped us on local/internal infrastructure as well as infrastructural connectivity with neighboring countries. As for Cambodia, let’s look into it, China has come to providing us with assistance in all directions – from north to south and east to west, so to speak.
As far as the northern part of the country is concerned, the Chinese assistance provides us with the forthcoming Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Jroy Jangva, the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Tamak, the NR 8, which connects to the border with Vietnam and also to the NR 7. To another direction, from the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Jroy Jangva, we will have the Chinese loan for the four-lane NR 6 from Phnom Penh to Thnal Kaeng and, in the future, to Siem Reap city. From Thnal Kaeng, the Chinese loan gets us the NR 61 to Prek Kadam too. You may notice that from Prek Kadam back to Phnom Penh, which I mentioned earlier, we are calling for help from the Chinese friend to make a segment of NR 5 into four-lanes too.
Before reaching to Siem Reap city, we also have the almost completed NR 62 from Kompong Thom province to Preah Vihear province’s Tbeng Meanjei city. We already put into official use the national road from Tbeng Meanjei city to the temples of Preah Vihear and Koh Ker. This road, you may agree, is very important given its connectivity around this part of the Tonle Sap Lake as it could well be imagined to be a tail bending dragon or a “green dragon” according to Ambassador Pan Guangxue’s prediction. The year of the dragon, according to the Cambodian observation, there could be another big flood. I would advise the Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company to pay attention while building this road and bridges –we have 23 bridges to be enlarged and three new bridges to be built along existing ones – as the NR 6 is lying along the flood thrust.
We also will have a road from Preah Vihear to Thalaborovat of Stoeung Treng province, from where we have the link by NR 7 either on to the border with Laos or back down to Phnom Penh. This has clearly connected Cambodia locally north, northeast and east.
As far as the northwest area is concerned, we have the NR 57, 57B and 59 which is linking Kon Damrey to Mealay and on to Pailin. To the west, we also have the NR 41 which connects the main NR 4 through to Kompot province. The China Exim Bank’s President affirmed the other day that we also can have the NR 44 which will be the fourth road on the right hand side of the main NR 4 at Kompong Speu’s Jbar Mon district. I think we should speed up the project formulation and negotiation with the Chinese friend, and hopefully we could get a portion of the four billion USD for at least one road, etc.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, please allow me to take a bit of time to remind authorities of all levels about the busy schedules and works of the National Elections Committee, which on one front is in the process of ballot counting and proceeding to announce the electoral results of the Senate, and on another front, on June 3, 2012, to deal with the communal council universal elections. All political parties to run in the elections will have to come up with their communal councilor candidates lists by March 1 to the latest. As today is February 14, we have only 15 days more.
I am calling on all local authorities and armed forces to make everything they can to ensure a favorable atmosphere for all political parties to run in a free, fair and just election. Eventually, the Cambodian People’s Party is in the process of organizing nationwide caucuses in all 1,633 communes throughout the country to evaluate the work fulfilled so far according to the communal development plan for 2007-2012 and to work out goals and objectives of the plan for 2012 through to 2017.
The Cambodian People’s Party local caucuses are also conducting pilot elections to figure out the best candidates to run in the communal councilor elections. It is seen to be the Party’s democratic process. The Cambodian People’s Party, while there is maybe a different practice from others, offers chances for candidates to compete. The result of the pilot elections will then help the ordering of candidacy in the party list for each commune.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation through HE Pan Guangxue to the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China for the assistance they kindly offered to Cambodia. It is equally important to value the magnificent bond of relations between Cambodia and China which was built by previous generation leaders – Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and leaders Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi, etc. I could remember standing by the road side welcoming, when I was young, the visit of Liu Shaoqi to Cambodia.
I thank the Ministries of Transports and Public Works and Economy and Finance as well as all concerned local authorities of the three provinces where the project will run through. I may as well thank the Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company, one of China’s prestigious construction companies, to make this road with standard and beauty as those of Shanghai’s that I have seen. I thank the Chinese embassy and all concerned authorities for the facilitation they provided so that this construction ceremony could happen today. I am seeking Cambodian people’s understanding, especially those who are residing along the project site, for the difficulties and inconveniences the project may incur on their living condition.
It is to everyone’s experience and knowledge that once the NR 6 is done, the direct benefit will come to those of you living along it. I also seek cooperation and effort from the local authorities and the armed forces in providing security as well as collaboration with both Cambodian and Chinese workers and companies so that the project will be achieved in harmony./.