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Infrastructure must remain a priority

Dear Editor,

I was interested to read of the concerns raised by Kalai village residents over the impact of future developments on their community and that 20,000 hectares of land have, evidently, already been cleared by a Vietnamese company (“Minorities to consult NGO after failed bid to reach PM”, March 25).

Recently, on arriving in Banlung, I was rather surprised to find the unsealed and often narrow road that runs from O Pong Moan, suddenly widened into a four-lane boulevard. Although the road reduces in width on leaving the eastern boundary, the excellent surface is maintained right to the Vietnamese border.

Although the O Pong Moan to Banlung section of National Route 78 is currently being upgraded, completion will not take place for several years. Had this section of the road been given priority, then the local economy, particularly of Stung Treng, would have been given a much-needed boost, and the numbers of tourists arriving from Phnom Penh would probably have already risen.

As one of the three areas in the regional “Development Triangle”, the northeast of Cambodia should have a fair share of whatever benefits accrue from increases in economic activity. These, hopefully will filter down to all sections of the community, including members of the local ethnic minorities such as those featured on the advertising hoarding over the new road. To achieve such an equitable distribution demands a sound road infrastructure. One would hope that there will be no slippage in completion of the upgrade and, if possible, the works are signed off ahead of schedule.

Michael Hansen
Phnom Penh

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