T HE Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) gave an $83 million aid grant to Cambodia for ongoing projects to develop the country's infrastructure.
The aid grant was received by Foreign Minister Prince Norodom Sirivudh at a ceremony held at the Japanese Embassy on July 30.
The money will be used for road building, rehabilitation of Phnom Penh Port and the upgrading of Phnom Penh's water and electricity supplies, according to a Jica official who requested anonymity in an interview with the Post.
He said firms were still bidding to do the work for the first project - the rehabilitation of Phnom Penh Port at a cost of $16.6 million including $1.1 million in consultancy fees.
He said Jica had already spent $22 million on the second project which aimed to upgrade electricity facilities and achieve a 5 megawatt supply of electricity to Phnom Penh.
The Jica official said a further $19.7 million would be spent in the second phase of the project to upgrade the fifth diesel-power station in Phnom Penh.
He said $16 million will be spent in the second phase of the third project to rehabilitate National Road Route 6A. The 44 km access road will connect Phnom Penh, via the Japanese Friendship bridge, to Route 6 at Chun Chunok (40 km north of Phnom Penh). Route 6 connects Phnom Penh to the northern provinces.
The official said $14 million had already been spent on the road which when finished would be a fully paved two lane highway with 26 bridges.
The aim of the fourth project is to increase the capacity of Phnom Penh's main water storage tanks from 56,000 cubic meters to 100,000 cubic meters.
The Jica official said $10 million had already been spent on the water tanks and a further $17 million would be spent in the second phase of the project.
He said $15 million would be spent on the final project which aimed to improve the Road Construction Center located near Pochentong airport by providing short term training to Cambodian road builders and supplying them with equipment such as bulldozers and power shovels imported from Japan.
The Jica spokesman clarified his agency's role, saying: "The agency is supervising the projects which will provide contracts to Japanese companies working in Cambodia.
"Local labor will be used whenever possible and short-term training will be provided to teach the relevant skills for the projects.
"The projects are divided into two phases linked to a given fiscal year. Following an Exchange of Notes between the donor and the recipient, up to four months can elapse before a construction contract is negotiated.
"According to a typical Jica calendar schedule almost six months are required before work can effectively begin on a project."
In a separate aid grant the Japanese government has donated $28,375 to the Khmer Cultural Development Institute, according to a Japanese Embassy press release.
The institute was founded in 1992 by solo violinist Catherine Geach who formerly attended the London Royal Academy of Music and now plays Khmer music and teaches music at the Phnom Penh University of Fine Arts.
The press release said Geach founded the institute because she was worried that Cambodia's cultural heritage was in danger of disappearing.
The institute is a Khmer-based non-government organization which aims to preserve and develop traditional Khmer culture.
The press release said a music school built by the institute would open in Kampot in August providing an opportunity for 20 orphaned children to study traditional music.
The Khmer Cultural Development Institute, staffed by volunteers, was granted legal status by Untac in March 1993 and is recognized as an NGO by the Royal Government.
THE cash-strapped Royal Government has dug deep into its pockets to give $10,000 in emergency relief to Rwanda as a gesture of solidarity, an official said on Aug 5.
"We cannot be unmoved by the suffering of the Rwandan people and refugees," the official said, citing a letter from Foreign Minister Prince Norodom Sirivudh to the UN which will distribute the aid.