Hun Sen To Ask Japan to Build New Bridge

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.


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