Hun Sen: Tolls on National Route 4 Benefit ‘All People’

Prime Minster Hun Sen re­sponded to questions by opposition lawmaker Son Chhay over the AZ company’s controversial contract to levy tolls on National Route 4 in letter dated March 16.

The letter, sent to National As­sem­bly President Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh, defended the awarding of the contract that al­lowed AZ, which is chair­ed by CPP parliamentarian Ung Bun Hauv, to charge tolls on vehicles using the road and blasted the op­position for charging the company did little to earn its revenue.

Hun Sen said that the public can see the signs, road safety build­ings and service route that the company has put up, so “saying that it is making cake without any flour has no basis.”

The letter said that renovation and broadening of the road is now complete on 200 km to 230 km, from Sihanoukville to Ang Snoul district in Kandal province.

Hun Sen also addressed the con­cerns of taxi drivers who pro­tested by blocking toll booths and were beaten by police when the $1.40 one-way tolls from Siha­noukville to Phnom Penh went into effect Jan 1.

“We know that a number of people have very serious difficulty,” he wrote, adding “The Royal Govern­ment also asks those people to understand because the works of constructing, maintaining the route needs a large budget.”

Of the several hundred families who have complained to NGOs in recent months about the wi­dening of the road, the Prime Min­ister also asked for understanding.

“The Royal Government hopes that those people will understand that the action of the Royal Gov­ernment is to serve the interest of the nation and all people. The Royal Government would like to thank people who have cooperated to implement this contract with high national patriotic spirit,” Hun Sen wrote.

Son Chhay said he was disappointed with the prime minister’s answer.

“The reason I wrote him a third letter about this is because of his iron-fist speech,” he said, referring to Hun Sen’s announcement earlier this month that he would fight corruption in the judiciary with an iron fist. “I though that he is now serious about fighting corruption,” Son Chhay said.

“All these contracts were done in secret deals that have never been made public,” he said. “We want the government to release the contract and conduct a survey of the needs and amount of tolls being collected along National Route 4.”

Son Chhay said that when AZ was awarded the contract, then-Minister of Public Works and Transportation Khy Taing Lim complained to him that the deal was done without his knowledge.

“When the new minister of pub­lic works addressed the Public Private Sector Forum last week he relied on company statements about their expenditures and needed revenue rather than any government study,” he said.

Son Chhay said that Hun Sen’s claims about the cost of road renovation show that he was “out of touch with reality.”

“We have petitions with thousands of thumbprints of people angry that the government does not respect the Land Law and com­­pensate them [for the loss of their land], and instead sends police to beat them. But the prime minister thanks them for being so kind to give up their land,” Son Chhay said.

Chan Thun, a taxi driver representative charged with negotiating with AZ on the toll charges, said Monday that as far as he knows, no negotiations have occurred in months.

“The taxi drivers stopped the protest because they faced many problems,” he said. “During the protest two drivers were detained and a car was taken The driver had to pay $500 in black money to get the car back. No receipt.”

 

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