KAMPONG SPEU, Cambodia, March 25 (Xinhua) — Connecting Kampong Speu and Kandal provinces in southwest Cambodia, the Chinese-built National Road No. 51 is playing an important role in facilitating travel flow and transport of goods.
Built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation under a concessional loan from the Chinese government, the 37.9-km-long and 12-meter-wide asphalt road was a strategic route linking National Road No. 5 in Kampong Speu and National Road No. 4 in Kandal.
Locals said in the past, the road was bumpy and very difficult to travel due to large potholes and it was very dusty in the dry season and slippery and inundated during the rainy season.
“Previously, it took almost the whole morning or afternoon to travel at this distance, but now, it takes 30 to 40 minutes only thanks to the good-conditioned road,” Muth Sokleang, a vegetable vendor along the road, told Xinhua on Friday.
“This Chinese-built road is really important to help facilitate travel and transport of goods and agricultural products such as rice, bananas, mangoes and vegetables from farms to markets,” the 39-year-old woman said, adding “It also helps save both time and money.”
Chhem Thath Thay, a 21-year-old resident along the road, said since the road has been constructed, land prices in the surrounding area have skyrocketed.
“Thank you, China, for constructing this road that has brought us new hope,” he told Xinhua. “The road will not only help improve the livelihoods of local people, but also contribute to deepening the bond of friendship between the people of the two countries.”
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony on Friday, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen expressed his profound gratitude to China for financing the project, saying that transport infrastructure was the key element to boost economic growth and reduce poverty.
“This road will play an important role in facilitating travel and transport of goods because it hosts many factories and large scale enterprises as well as residential projects,” he said. “Although COVID-19 has disrupted us, it cannot prevent our development, particularly the development projects undertaken by China.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister stressed the importance of the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, saying that both pacts are a new booster for Cambodia’s trade growth.
Wu Guoquan, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, said pragmatic cooperation between China and Cambodia has continuously borne new fruits, highlighting that in recent months, some China-aided projects such as roads, bridges, stadium, and hospitals have been put into use.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, our pragmatic cooperation has produced more fruitful results which truly reflect the ironclad friendship between China and Cambodia,” he said at the event.
Wu said the China-Cambodia community with a shared future during the pandemic has set a model for building a new type of international relations.
“We will continue to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and make good use of the CCFTA and RCEP to push our bilateral trade volume to a new high,” he said.
Cambodian Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said the road has improved both transport infrastructure and livelihoods of the people in both provinces.
“It is another new achievement and a valuable gift from the governments of Cambodia and China to the people in Kampong Speu and Kandal in particular and to the people across the country in general,” he said.