Series of paved highways aim at stimulating economy and improving border defences in former battlefield areas
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
A soldier rides along dirt roads to the Preah Vihear temple site with his AK-47 rifle.
PRIME Minister Hun Sen has pledged to develop former battlefields along the Kingdom's borders, saying the move is integral to national security.
"Cambodia's borders with Vietnam, Laos and Thailand will become developed, and we will not have to worry about further armed disputes," he said during the inauguration of a bridge in Oddar Meanchey province last week.
"The main goal is to develop society, security and national defense. It is not done to give us a base to attack neighboring countries but to improve communication and cooperation."
Hun Sen cited the examples of Malai district in Banteay Meanchey province, Phnom Proek and Sampov Loun districts in Battambang province, and Pailin province as examples of successful border development.
According to Kim Borey, Director General of the Ministry of Public Works & Transport (MPWT), paved roads are already in construction across Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces, adding that the next step will be to link Pailin and Battambang provinces to Koh Kong.
"I hope this road connection will be finished in five years, within this government term," he said, adding that funding was coming from China, Kuwait, the Asian Development Bank, Thailand and Korea.
He said the ambitious scheme is composed of three major roads - one gravel road closest to the border for military patrols, a wider gravel road for commercial transport and a paved road for passenger travel.
"We are looking for loan from different countries to build more roads along border," he said, noting that the government has consistently increased road building in border areas year on year.
According to Kvan Siem, military engineer in RCAF General Command, the gravel road construction in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and Banteay meanchey provinces is being completed by the army.
"We are constructing roads along the border and we will finish almost 500 kilometers at the end of this year", he said.
"We are building roads... for the families of soldiers and police along the border who will be able to live alongside their husbands who are stationed at the border."
He added that the road linking Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey and Stung Treng provinces will begin construction this year, and that the road linking Banteay Meanchey to Battambang, Pailin, Pursat and Koh Kong provinces will commence in 2010.