ADB Weighs Highway Loan

The Asian Development Bank next month will decide whether to grant Cambodia a $110 million loan package for work on the country’s highways, an ADB program manager said Tuesday.

The loan will provide $35 million to rehabilitate Route 1–part of the ADB’s Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh City highway project–and $75 million for Routes 5, 6 and 7, he said.

The project, part of a proposed Indochina Highway that would stretch from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, has been in the works since 1995.

The official could not say whe­ther formation of a new government would be one of the criteria on which the ADB would base its decision. ADB resident representative Someth Suos could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Routes 1, 5, 6, and 7 have been designated as high priorities in the government’s 1997-2000 public investment program. Route 5 goes north to Battambang, Route 6 to Kompong Thom and Route 7 through Kompong Cham to Stung Treng.

At a recent economic cooperation conference in Manila, the Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh City

highway project was included as one of ADB’s priorities in its work plan for the next three years.

Work is scheduled to begin next April on the first phase of the pro­ject, from Phnom Penh to Neak Lueng, Public Works and Transport Ministry spokesman Meas Samith said Monday. Reha­bilitation of the second phase, from Neak Lueng to Bavit in Svay Rieng is scheduled to be done by the year 2000. The project is expected to cost $51 million, he said, with at least $10 million coming from the government.

Meas Samith said completion of the highway would boost the  economy and help to increase trade between the two countries. He also expressed hope that the benefits would trickle down to those living in the provinces of Prey Veng and Svay Rieng, where most are subsistence farmers. “People living along the highway will be able to make a good living,” he said. “They will be able to open shops and make small business for travelers.”

A Vietnamese Embassy spo­kes­­man did not know the status of work on the highway from the Cambodia border to Ho Chi Minh City.

At the end of 1997, the ADB approved 10 loans for Cam­bodia worth more than $247 million.


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