Lawmaker Requests Fiber-Optic Project Probe

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay is requesting a probe into a proposed $30 million project to install fiber-optic cable from Phnom Penh to Kompong Cham pro­vince and Sihanoukville.

The Japanese government is con­sidering a request from the Ministry of Post and Tele­com­muni­cations request for a loan to carry out the project, but Son Chhay said Tuesday he fears that plans are already moving forward, even though the proposed cost far surpasses the price of a fi­ber­-optic project completed in 1999.

Son Chhay formally requested pro­j­ect details from Minister So Khun in a letter approved by acting National Assembly President Heng Samrin this week.

“We need to know more about this,” he said Tuesday.

Reached by phone Wednesday, So Khun said the project was in its early stages and a loan will depend on research undertaken by a team of Japanese experts.

But both he and another senior min­istry official, who declined to be named, said the proposed fi­ber­optic network differed in scale and so­phistication from a fiber-optic line completed in 1999, which stretch­es from the Thai border to the Vietnamese border.

That project, undertaken by a German company in the Alcatel conglomerate, cost $8 million and stretches more than 600 km—a fraction of the price of the newly proposed project, which would reach only some 400 km.

The 1999 project “was a single fi­ber-­­optic cable and was very simple,” said the ministry official. He said the proposed network will in­clude buildings, underground ca­ble and an information tech­nology net­work, among other en­hance­ments. The officials also denied any pre-exist­ing agreement with companies to install the cable and pledged an open and transparent bidding process.

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