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Railway freight hub delayed

CONSTRUCTION on Cambodia’s largest freight rail station has been postponed to the end of the year, Ministry of Public Works and Transportation Undersecretary of State Yin Bonna said Thursday.

“We are still studying the design of the plan. We have not yet had approval,” Ministry of Public Works and Transportation undersecretary of state Yin Bonna said. Construction on the station was slated to begin in mid-2010 and be completed during 2012, he said late last year. When contacted Thursday he declined comment on meeting the 2012 completion date.

Samrong is the planned central node for freight shipments on Cambodia’s US $141 million revamped rail project, funded by the Asian Development Bank, the government, AusAID and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The new facility will be built on the site of a former station on 98 hectares of land in Dangkor district outside Phnom Penh, standing at the junction of the Southern Line connecting Sihanoukville and the Northern Line stretching to Thailand.

Some of the land earmarked for the new station was not under the railroad’s control, Samrong Krom commune chief Touch Phin said. “The government has not yet solved the problem for villagers.”

Agreeing on compensation for the land was the main point of conflict between the two parties, he added. “The villagers are asking for payments of $10 a square metre, but the government is only offering $2.90 per metre.”

The first elements of the Southern Line are slated to open October 1, with the full line seeing freight shipments by April 2011, ADB Senior Transport Economist Peter Broch said. Cambodia has signed the Trans-Asia Railway agreement intended to link Asian and European nations by rail.

A proposed line to Vietnam is still in the earliest planning stages. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JEREMY MULLINS

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