Route 1 Project Is Delayed

Work on a much-touted highway development project has not yet started because the contractors haven’t come up with the construction materials, officials said Wednesday.

The $32-million project to rehabilitate Route 1 was launched last month with a groundbreaking ceremony by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Mekong River ferry town of Neak Loeung.

But the materials have been held up at the border at Poipet while the Thai-owned contractor negotiates the cost of excise duties with the Thai government, said Ouk Chan, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Public Works.

Ouk Chan said the contractor, Nappavong International Cons­truction Ltd, assured him they would have the materials by Jan 28 and be ready to begin construction on the 105-km stretch of road. The ministry does not in­tend to cancel the contract, he added.

The government has already in­vested $1.2 million buying up more land for the highway. The project is being funded by the Asian Development Bank as the first stage in a plan to link Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Bangkok with a modern highway.

The project, to be completed in 2003, features in the ADB’s plans to promote regional trade along the Mekong River.

Neak Leoung, 55 km southeast of Phnom Penh, is most remembered as the site of the mistaken US Air Force B-52 bombing in 1973, in which more than 200 civilians were killed.


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