Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday that he will ask Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for a total of $118 million to build a bridge spanning the Mekong River at Neak Leoung town during a meeting of Asean leaders in Japan next week.
Japan had already agreed earlier this year to grant $100 million for the project, which would link Kandal province’s Leuk Dek district and Prey Veng province’s Peam Ro district.
But, speaking at a school inauguration ceremony in Kompong Speu province, Hun Sen said that amount would not be enough.
“Japan understands what happened in the past,” Hun Sen said, referring to the nearly three decades of war that left the nation’s infrastructure in shambles.
Construction is expected to begin in 2006, Hun Sen said.
“The road will be constructed as part of the Asean highway, so people will not need to use a ferry to cross the river,” he said.
Government officials met on Monday with representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is providing technical support for the bridge construction. The Japanese team came to study the economic, social, environmental and traffic impact of the bridge project, said Chhin Kong Hean, director general at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Prime Minister Hun Sen urged government officials to meet with the JICA experts to find ways to solve any problems that may accompany the bridge construction, such as resettling households that lie in the construction zone, said Ngy Tayi, undersecretary of state at the Finance Ministry.
“We own the country, we will find a location for the people and ask them to cooperate,” he said.
Japan has funded two bridges: The Japanese Friendship bridge over the Tonle Sap river, and the Kizuna bridge over the Mekong in Kompong Cham province.