Kind Words for China as PM Opens Overpass

Inaugurating Cambodia’s first highway overpass in Phnom Penh yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia’s current public works building efforts were helping to ease congestion and encourage trade and offered thanks to China for helping to finance them.

Completed last month after a year of construction by the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation, the $6 million, five-meter-tall, four-lane Kbal Thnal Sky Bridge now takes southbound traffic from Norodom Boulevard and northbound traffic from National Road 2 above the roads that feed into the Monivong Bridge in Chamkar Mon district.

“I would like to send this message to all people in Cambodia that the first sky bridge in Cambodia has been born and is allowed to be used,” the prime minister said, adding that a second overpass was planned for a Sen Sok district road junction on Russian Confederation Boulevard.

The fly-over has done away with the former roundabout that joined Norodom and Monivong Boulevards at the foot of the bridge. Vehicles passing beneath the new road bridge appeared unaccustomed to navigating overhead obstacles as two trucks on June 8 struck the underpass within hours of each other.

Listing Cambodia’s current and future bridges, many of which were constructed under his 25-year reign as premier, Mr Hun Sen said China and Japan were helping building Cambodia’s infrastructure.

“China helps to build the road and then gives us the vehicles to drive on the road. Thanks,” Mr Hun Sen said, referring to a consignment of Chinese military trucks officially handed over on Wednesday.

“Just only yesterday, they added to Cambodia another 257 vehicles. All are big,” the prime minister said.

Mr Hun Sen also criticized SRP lawmaker Ly Srey Vyna, who told the National Assembly in December that Japan had supposedly frozen $74 million in funding for the new Neak Loeung Bridge over the Mekong River due to concerns about compensation for villagers likely to be displaced by the construction.

The government on Wednesday concluded a $131 million financing agreement with Japan to construct the Neak Loeung bridge, which will span the Mekong on National Road 1 and is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The Japanese Embassy at the time denied the SRP claim and Mr Hun Sen said yesterday that such “lies” had been a blow to the SRP’s credibility.

“What will you do? Where can you hide your face since you lied like this?” he said.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that corruption was indeed slowing the construction of public works in Cambodia.

“Without corruption, the constructions would be five to ten times more than this,” he said.


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