Officials Talk With Thais About Paving Road

Top Thai and Cambodian officials met Saturday to discuss paving Route 48, the 160-km Koh Kong province highway that runs from Sre Ambel to Koh Kong town and is an important link in the regional plan to build an “As­ean highway” network.

A delegation from the Thai Ministry of Finance, led by Fi­nance Vice Minister Kitti Lim­skul, met with Cambodian Fi­nance Minister Keat Chhon to dis­cuss Thai loans totaling

$14 million for the project, which is scheduled to take three years, said a finance official who asked not to be named.

Another Thai delegation is ex­pected in the coming weeks to dis­cuss the building of four bridg­es along the same road, Ministry of Public Works and Transport Undersecretary of State Uk Chan said. Transport Minister Khy Taing Lim will meet with the officials to discuss a possible $7 million grant from the Thai government to be used to build the bridges, he said.

Travelers on Route 48 must make four river crossings by ferry to get between Sre Ambel and Koh Kong town.

Earlier this year, Thai soldiers completed a two-year renovation of the highway by resurfacing the road with laterite, a type of gravel. The road existed before Cambo­dia’s years of war, but had deteriorated and fallen into disuse. More than 300 vehicles travel be­tween Koh Kong and Phnom Penh each day, Uk Chan said.

Thai engineers scouted the road Friday and the paving is  expected to begin in July, he said. A Thai company will do the construction work.

“It will increase travel and the transport of goods between the two countries,” Uk Chan said.

Thai and Cambodian government officials are expected to sign a formal agreement on the paving and bridge projects sometime in the next month in Phnom Penh, the finance official said.

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