PM Announces Stung Treng-Preah Vihear Bridge Plan

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced government plans on Monday to build a massive bridge across the Mekong River near Stung Treng City, which would connect Stung Treng province to Preah Vihear province.

Officials said the proposed bridge would span more than one kilometer and further integrate the country’s northern provinces into the national transport network, providing a major boost for tourism and trade in the region.

During an inauguration speech for the new Ministry of Social Affairs building, Mr Hun Sen said the government would likely build a bridge to connect Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces, in addition to the upcoming construction of a bridge across the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh and another one across the Tonle Bassac river at Takhmau City in Kandal province.

“We plan to build two other bridges: another Chroy Changva bridge and a bridge in Takhmau. And it will be possible to construct another bridge across the Mekong River in Stung Treng province, linking Preah Vihear province to Stung Treng province,” he said.

Stung Treng provincial governor Loy Sophat said that since 2008, two construction companies had conducted feasibility studies for a bridge that would connect National Road 7 in Stung Treng City to Thala Barivat district, located on the riverbank opposite the city.

He said the bridge would span more than one kilometer and strengthen Stung Treng’s position as a regional transport hub, connecting Laos and Vietnam to Cambodia’s northern provinces and eventually to Thailand, after the northern border crossings with Thailand are developed.

“It will make Stung Treng province become the center, boosting transport and tourism,” he said, adding that the bridge would allow tourists to travel over the nearly completed road from Thala Barivat district to Preah Vihear City and Preah Vihear temple.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector working group on tourism, said the proposed bridge could create new travel options for tourists who travel in the region and want to visit ecotourism sites and ancient temples in the northern provinces.

“It will boost tourism, making travel easier and reducing travel costs,” he said.

Ung Chun Hour, director-general of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s general directorate of transport, said the bridge would “allow the government to integrate the [northern] region into the national economy.”

“It will stimulate growth of the [regional] economy. There will be more trade, more movement of people from one province to another,” he said. “It will be very important for Preah Vihear province, because the growth will allow for raising the living standard there.”

Mr Chun Hour acknowledged however, that since the completion in 2008 of the National Road 7 and the bridge across the Sekong River, which connects Stung Treng to Laos, the region’s main highway was “not yet very busy.”

The northeastern region’s economy, he said, “is the same as Laos. It doesn’t produce much goods to stimulate transport.”

  (Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze)



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