The poor condition of National Route 6 from the Thai border to Siem Reap town risks compromising the success of Cambodia’s first international professional golf tournament, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday.
Hun Sen, a well-known golf enthusiast, told the biannual Government-Private Sector Forum that he experienced the road’s terrible conditions firsthand while driving to the Phokeethra Country Club golf course on the outskirts of Siem Reap town.
“It almost broke my back,” Hun Sen said of the drive to the club.
“I would like to express my disappointment together with the people who use this road on the delayed construction,” he said.
He then ordered all those involved with the project, including Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and Finance Minister Keat Chhon, to finish construction on the road in time for the Johnny Walker Cambodia Open 2007, which commences late November at Phokeethra.
“It is a very important event,” Hun Sen said of the golf open.
Pheng So Vichnou, government project manager for National Road 6, said Wednesday that construction has taken longer than expected, but he remains optimistic the road would be in good condition for the tournament.
With the golf tournament in mind, Pheng So Vichnou said the pressure is on, and all those involved with the $77.5 million project are generating “a catch-up plan” to better the road’s condition by late November.
Contracts for nearly 150 km of National Route 6 were signed with a Thai company in October of 2005, he said, adding that the original timeframe was to have the road finished within three years.
“There are still 15 months to go,” Pheng So Vichnou said.
He added that delays have been due to unseasonable rains in January 2006 and de-mining efforts that are “taking longer than expected.”
Siem Reap Provincial Governor Sou Phirin, however, said he fears construction won’t be completed until 2009.
If the construction team continues to run behind schedule, Sou Phirin said he would ask the Public Works Ministry to look for another company to finish the job.