Japan Agency To Design 3rd Bridge Across Mekong

The government on Friday sign­ed an agreement to have the Japan International Cooperation Agency design a new bridge that would cross the Mekong River between Prey Veng and Kandal provinces, officials said Sunday.

Construction could begin early next year, said Suon Rachana, un­dersecretary of state for the Mini­stry of Public Works and Transportation.

The bridge would only be the third in Cambodia to cross the Mekong River, after the completion of a bridge within Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district, which is split by the waterway, according to Touch Chankosal, secretary of state for the Public Works Ministry. The only existing bridge spanning the river is the Kizuna Bridge in Kom­pong Cham province.

The proposed bridge will be along National Road 1 and would link Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district to Peamro district’s Neak Loeung commune in Prey Veng pro­vince, said Mr Chankosal. The area is currently home to one of the country’s busiest ferry crossings, which shuttles traffic moving be­tween Phnom Penh and Vietnam on National Road 1.

The bridge itself would be 2,200 meters long and 13.5 meters wide, but would require some 2,800 me­ters of road to be built, he said, add­ing that the figures are from a JICA feasibility study begun three years ago. At its apex, the bridge would rise 37.5 meters above the river.

“The bridge will be the longest and highest bridge in Cambodia,” Mr Chankosal said. The cost of construction is uncertain, but a previous estimate put the price tag at about $70 million, he said.

“We will know details after Japa­nese technicians finish the study in November,” Mr Chankosal said

At that point, the Japanese government will be approached for money, said Mr Rachana. The memorandum of understanding signed Friday is for JICA—the aid arm of the Japanese government—to study the social and economic ben­efits of the proposed bridge, and to make a design, he added.

“There should be another detail­ed study before putting the project out to bid in Tokyo,” Mr Rachana explained.

The bridge will be about 1 km north of the existing Neak Loeung ferry crossing, he added.

Seng Chhuon, director of the Neak Loeung ferry, said he welcomed the new bridge: “We are not concerned with losing jobs,” he said, adding that the ferry is state-owned. “We just want to see development for our country…. We will move to another area that needs a ferry after the bridge is built.”

He said more than 10,000 people use the ferry service every day, which operates three boats and has 140 employees.

“If the new bridge is built, it will be much more convenient for the surrounding residents to travel back and forth, and we won’t have any traffic jams,” he said, noting that during the last Khmer New Year, traffic was backed up 3 km at the crossing.

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