The government has asked Australia to provide more funding to help complete the rehabilitation of the dilapidated railway line between Phnom Penh and the Thai border, a spokesman said on Monday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong met with Lieutenant General John Sanderson, former chief of the Australian Army, at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office building in Phnom Penh.
After the meeting, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that—following a request to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) last month for help with the railway—Mr. Namhong requested more funds for the cash-strapped project.
“If Australia and the ADB cooperate to have the repairs and reconstruction of the railway completed, it would be great because the price of transportation would be cheap and traffic jams would be reduced,” Mr. Namhong said, according to Mr. Kuong.
While work on the Southern Line of the railway, from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville’s seaport, is nearly completed, the $141.6 million given to the project so far—mostly from the ADB—is not enough to complete repairs on the Northern Line.
An estimated $75 million to $125 million more is needed to fix the colonial-era tracks and many bridges damaged by years of war on the part of the line connecting Phnom Penh and Banteay Meanchey province.
Mr. Kuong also said that Mr. Namhong thanked Australia for providing scholarships to Cambodian students and civil servants, as well as for the $21 million the country has already provided to the railway rehabilitation project through its international development agency, AusAID.
Mr. Kuong did not elaborate on Lt. Gen. Sanderson’s response, but reported him as saying that Australia would continue to support the Cambodian government.
Lt. Gen Sanderson was chief of Australian forces during the time of the U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia, and was in Phnom Penh on Monday as the Australian representative at the funeral of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
“Australia helped all the parties of Cambodia to sit down and talk together to find the peaceful resolution in Cambodia,” Mr. Namhong was reported as saying.
Mr. Kuong also said that Lt. Gen. Sanderson offered his condolences to Cambodia for the loss of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.