VN Considering Additional Border Crossing

Vietnamese officials have proposed investing $10 million to develop a second international border crossing between Cam­bo­dia and Vietnam, according to Ta­keo province Governor Kep Chuk­tema.

The border between Vietnam’s An Giang province and Cam­bo­dia’s Kiri Vong district in Takeo is normally used for small-scale trade between local farmers. The road on the Cambodia side leading to the Phnom Den border check­point is “critically poor,” Kep Chuktema said.

Vietnam wants to improve the roads on its side of the border and build a commercial area where foreigners can shop in duty-free stores, Kep Chuktema said. The governor said he would tell Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng of the proposal.

“The Vietnamese are just waiting for Cambodian approval to join them in developing trade. They have projects that they want to begin,” Kep Chuktema said.

The governor heard the proposal during a recent working trip to An Giang to meet top officials. He said he supports the idea and wants to use the Cham Yeam in­ter­national border crossing be­tween Koh Kong province and Thailand as a model.

Commercial development and gam­bling casinos have boosted the local economy in Koh Kong, Kep Chuktema said. One casino was built in recent years in Svay Rieng province near the Bavet border checkpoint between Cam­bo­dia and Vietnam. There are also casinos near Poi­pet along the border with Thai­land where foreigners can cross into Cambodia for a few hours to gamble.

But the governor said the Phnom Den border crossing would not have casinos, since the government bans casinos within 200 km of Phnom Penh.

With good roads, Kep Chuk­tema said, the Phnom Den border crossing would be more convenient than the Bavet crossing for tourists and businessmen. It is closer to Phnom Penh and travelers do not have to take a ferry, as they do at Neak Loung town on the road to Bavet.

Cambodian villagers in the Phnom Den area complain Viet­nam has moved the border more than one km inside Cambodia. The villagers said Vietnamese authorities do not allow Cambo­dian farm­ers to use their own rice fields or water from a canal that villa­gers claim is inside Cam­bo­dia.

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy was detained for two hours by Vietnamese policemen in November 2000 for illegally entering Vietnam at the Phnom Den border crossing. Sam Rainsy and about 20 members of his traveling party had taken photos and videotaped disputed areas in use by Vietnamese farmers.

But Kep Chuktema said the border demarcation dispute should not block development of the border crossing. The government should place economic considerations first, he said.

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