Ministry to Sue Company For Cutting Cable

A road repair project that has sliced Cambodia’s $9 million fiber optic line 12 times—most recently on Monday—is headed for court.

So Khun, minister of Posts and Telecommunications, said Mon­day his ministry is suing the Nopawong Construction Co Ltd of Thailand for repeatedly cutting the high-tech cable that stretches from Thailand to Vietnam.

“They have not cooperated with the Ministry and they have not been responsible,” So Khun said. “So we cannot say how much money [this has cost] but will leave it to the court to handle the problem.”

So Khun says Nopawong crews cut the cable while repairing National Route 1 in Prey Veng province. The cable, buried about 60 cm deep along the roadside, has been repaired each time.

Nopawong officials said Mon­day they try their best to avoid the cable, but that it is not always mapped properly.

They also say last year’s flooding left the earth covering the cable unstable and prone to shifting and that a yellow warning tape buried 20 cm above the cable is often impossible to see in the mud.

In the latest mishap Monday, two workers were assigned to stare into the earth as the bulldozer cleared topsoil, and neither saw the cable before it broke.

“We are not happy with what has happened,” said Sumate Chaiyakaew, Nopawong’s general manager. “We are trying very hard to avoid problems.”

Sumate Chaiyakaew said the underlying problem is that the contract for the $22-million job of repairing the road from Neak Leung to the border does not deal with the cable.

He said his company has no extra cash to spend on moving the cable out of harm’s way, and he knows the government doesn’t either. But since the contract has more than two years to run, a solution must be found, he said.

The fiber optic cable extends more than 600 km from Poipet at the Thai border to Bavet on the Vietnamese border.



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