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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New 600km road to link four provinces along Thai border

New 600km road to link four provinces along Thai border

Military engineers are set to build a new road to encourage agricultural development and improve security along the Thai border. 

ROAD TO SECURITY

Cambodian officials announced early August that military engineers would build roads at the Preah Vihear and Ta Moan Thom temple complexes in an attempt to improve border security in response to the six-week old standoff with Thailand.

MILITARY officials hope a new road will bolster local populations and improve security in four provinces along the Thai-Cambodian border.

The more than 600km road will link Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces.

"We will build the road through the four provinces as soon as the rainy season passes," Kvan Siem, head of general command headquarters for military engineers, said last week.

"I received orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen to build the road to help people settle their homes along the border and farm their lands," said Kvan Siem, adding that he completed a study of the projected gravel road earlier in the month.

He said he will meet with Hun Sen to discuss the study but refused to say how much the road would cost or how it would be funded.

"These areas are full of forests, mountains and mines, so construction will not be easy," Kvan Siem said. "Only military engineers are experienced enough to do it."

He said engineers will initially construct a gravel road that would later be paved. "It will enhance communication and transport along the border and between provinces."

The area was the scene of brutal fighting between the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam up to 1989, as well as later conflicts in the civil war between the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian government forces that ended in 1998.

New tensions hit the region in July as Cambodian and Thai forces faced off over a boundary dispute at the Preah Vihear temple complex.

[THE ROAD] HAS GREAT POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVING FARMING AND ... DEFNECE EFFORTS.

The proposed road will run between one and four kilometres from the Thai border, with a second road planned closer to the border once Thailand and Cambodia complete negotiations over new border demarcations.

"[The road] has great potential for improving farming and national defence efforts," Kvan Siem said. "We will have people deployed along these areas after the road is built. Our border defence will be stronger because we will have more soldiers and local residents living together across the region."

He said the road is part of larger development plans that officials hope will modernise the border provinces and improve security.

"When the road is complete, more people will live here," Preah Vihear province Deputy Governor Long Sovann said. "They [and the military] will prevent any future encroachment and improve the nation's agricultural development." 

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