The two halves of the Neak Loeung Bridge that will link Kandal and Prey Veng provinces were connected Monday, with the bridge set to be ready for traffic before the Khmer New Year in April, officials said Wednesday.
The two provinces are presently linked by a ferry along National Road 1 that crosses the Mekong River.
Kandal provincial governor Phay Bunchhoeun said Wednesday that construction of the long-awaited Neak Loeung Bridge would wrap up next month.
“The frame of the Neak Loeung Bridge was connected…on December 22,” Mr. Bunchhoeun said. “Now, the bridge is 95 percent constructed already.”
“The bridge will be completed by the middle of January 2015 and Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] will go to inaugurate it before the Khmer New Year,” he said.
Mr. Bunchhoeun said that once the bridge is open, the Neak Loeung ferry will continue to operate, but may be moved elsewhere on the river.
Ouch Sokhan, deputy director of the Neak Loeung ferry, said she assumed the ferry boats would be used in a new location but said that no official decision had yet been made. “Now the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is meeting over the future plans for the ferry,” he said.
Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek said the government was still considering what to do with the ferry.
“Originally, we had a plan to send the ferries to the Lvea Em dock [near Phnom Penh], but it seems it would not make a profit, so if there is a private [company] that wants to rent them, we will do that,” he said.
The Neak Loeung Bridge is being built with a $118-million grant from the Japanese government and was originally slated for completion by 2012.