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New buoys on Mekong to help boost trade

THE first in a series of floating navigational aids, aimed at improving the safety of river travel and enhancing Cambodia's potential for domestic and international trade, is to be launched Thursday on the Mekong, said Mom Sibon, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

In total, 57 buoys will be released along the 100-kilometre stretch of the Mekong between Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh.

"It's important to have buoys, signs, and lights along the waterways because ... some areas of the Mekong are deep and some are shallow," Mom Sibon said.

By making river transit easier, the navigation aids will cut transport costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a Mekong River Commission (MRC) statement said.

"Improving the safety of navigation on this river is vital for the economic development of our country," said Tram Iv Tek, the Minister of Public Works and Transport.

The MRC, which helps Mekong basin countries manage their water resources, says that currently the river is difficult to navigate. Changes in sedimentation, river depth, water flow and seasonal variations raise the cost of river transit.

"By using rivers in a more efficient manner, export potential can improve, and this will, in turn, help Cambodia achieve its poverty alleviation goals," said Hiek Phirun, the navigation program coordinator at the MRC.

In the first quarter, river transit sunk 22 percent compared to the same period last year.

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