Australia's ambassador presides over the opening of the road, which will cut hours off of some journeys in the province
Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson cuts the ribbon at the opening Tuesday of a 29-kilometre rural road near Pailin Tuesday.
A RURAL road project financed by the Australian government and opened near Pailin is expected to improve the lives of villagers and kickstart development in the area, officials said Tuesday at the opening of the 29 kilometres thoroughfare in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold.
Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson and Pailin Governor Y Chhien formally opened the US$600,000 route in a ribbon-cutting ceremony before a crowd of several hundred people.
Adamson said the Pailin municipality was remote and in need of more new roads. "This road demonstrates the importance of small-scale infrastructure to the lives of rural people," Adamson said.
"It will reduce transport times, improve access for farmers to markets and improve the access of over 7,000 people to nine primary schools, two secondary schools, two health centres and nine pagodas."
The Pailin Municipality is set to contribute to the scheme by building bridges along the route towards the end of this year. A maintenance committee and traffic-control posts are also planned to improve the longevity of the road surface.
CARE Cambodia director Sharon Wilkinson, who oversaw the tendering and construction of the road, said travel to schools and marketplaces would be reduced from 10 to three hours in some instances.
FUTURE INVESTMENT WILL BE SPENT ON ... AGRO-INDUSTRY.
Farmers previously had the price of their produce "beaten down" by middlemen, due to delays in transporting cargo.
"Now I am expecting their prices [received by farmers] to double," Wilkinson said.
She added that the new road, formerly an overgrown track used by the Khmer Rouge, has been in use for the past three weeks, and was "a very good investment".
Ieng Vuth, first deputy governor of Pailin, said the opening of the road should increase domestic business and trade with Thailand.
The municipality now hopes to build another 17km road and connect it to the road opened Tuesday to create one large loop that would circle the area. This new section is expected to cost $85,000, and Ieng Vuth hopes Australia will assist in financing the project.
"While we plan to build infrastructure as a base for economic development, future investment will be spent on developing agro-industry, because 99 percent of Pailin residents are farmers," he said.
Exports to Thailand, already expected to be boosted by the road, would further increase in value if the municipality could enhance their quality, Ieng Vuthy said.
He said 300,000 tonnes of corn was already being shipped to Thailand from Pailin each year.