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Lack of funds delays railway

Liu Ziming (left), chairman of China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co Ltd, and Zhang Chuan You, general manager of Cambodia Iron & Steel Mining Industry Group.
Liu Ziming (left), chairman of China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co Ltd, and Zhang Chuan You, general manager of Cambodia Iron & Steel Mining Industry Group, shake hands following a signing ceremony in Phnom Penhin 2012. Heng Chivoan

Lack of funds delays railway

The China Railway Group’s planned $7.5 billion Cambodian north-south railway line has been delayed due to funding shortages, according to the company’s top official.

Originally slated to begin construction last year, China Railway’s chairman, Li Changjin, told the South China Morning Post that work on the 400-kilometre railway line was on hold due to funding problems.

The April 9 the Morning Post’s report did not say when construction would begin.

Part of a larger $9.6 billion agreement signed between China Railway and the Chinese-owned Cambodia Iron and Steel Mining Industry Group, the railway is to connect a steel factory to be built in Preah Vihear province in the north to a new port in Koh Kong province on the gulf of Thailand in the south.

Construction has yet to begin on any part of what would be Cambodia’s largest-ever infrastructure project and little information has been made available from either of the companies involved or the government since the project was announced on December 31, 2012.

From the iron-ore mining area of Preah Vihear, the railway is to pass through the provinces of Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu before reaching the proposed port in Koh Kong.

Chinese company Union Development Group holds 45,000 hectares of land concessions in Koh Kong. It would be difficult for the railway to avoid passing through their holding, which includes a golf course and luxury resort.

But they say they have not been told of any plans to lay tracks on their turf.

“I don’t think they will build the railway through our concession because until today no one has come to contact us,” the company’s representative Ngou Tieng Lung told the Phnom Penh Post in an interview last month.

Union Development has not been informed of any progress on the railway by the government, nor have they inquired, Ngou added.

The ministry of public works and transport could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Sokhom Pheakavanmony, secretary of state at the ministry, told the Post in March that they too have not received word on the project.

“I think the company is still in the feasibility study phase because so far I have not received any news from them. If they have any update on the project they have to inform us,” he said.

Pheakavanmony attributed the lack of information to delays in China Railway’s feasibility study brought on by political instability from last year’s national election.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY KUNMAKARA AND DAVID BOYLE

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