Gov’t Mulls Road Repairs

The government is considering private foreign investment proposals to rehabilitate roads in the northwest in an effort to speed up restoring the national road network, which in the past has relied heavily on international donors.

A Thai company last week proposed to rehabilitate 150 km of National Roads 5 and 6 from Poi­pet through Sisophon to Siem Reap, said Ouk Chan, adviser to the Council of Ministers. The un­identified company is the sixth group from Thailand and China to have made similar proposals in recent months and to have met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, he added. “The premier welcomed all in­vestors and asked them to submit more detailed plans,” Ouk Chan said. “He is looking for the best proposal among the six to run the important project.”

Ouk Chan said all six companies are interested in developing the road through a “Build-Oper­ate-Transfer” scheme, in which investors would build the road, recoup costs from tolls collected from the users, and later transfer the road to the government. Ouk Chan estimated the 150 km stretch of road will cost $34 million to rehabilitate, plus $7 million for repairing three bridges.

Rehabilitation of the road has been needed for years, government officials said. The road has deteriorated due to decades of civil war, natural di­­sasters and heav­y truck traffic, the of­fi­cials said. Most re­cently, overload­ed trucks carrying construction materials from Thailand for Siem Reap’s hotel-construction boom are damaging the already-deteriorated road, officials said.

“We really need to rehabilitate the road in order to attract more tourists from Thailand,” said Tram Iv Tek, secretary of state for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Ouk Chan said the project also would improve the country’s econ­omy by boosting trade in ag­ricultural products between Cam­b­o­dia and Thailand.

The Council of Ministers and the Public Works Ministry will establish a joint committee to assess proposals from private in­vestors and conduct a formal bidding pro­cess, officials said. Mean­while, the government also will study the pro­ject and seek possible do­­­nor financing, they said.

“At the mo­ment, there are de­mands from the private sector to invest in the road project. We will first look at proposals from the pri­vate sector,” said Tram Iv Tek. “If it does not work out, we will look for financing from international organizations such as the World Bank and ADB.”

Other national roads in Cam­bo­dia have been restored with aid from the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Japan and the US. Most recently, the ADB ap­proved a $68 million loan to im­prove 577 km of road along Nat­ional Roads 5, 6 and 7.

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