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Avalanche of loans from bountiful China

Avalanche of loans from bountiful China

A$200 million loan from China, with a promise of another $100 million, will prompt

the construction of roads and bridges around Cambodia from early next year. The loans

are part of a whopping $600 million of aid China has promised the country.

Chhin Kong Hean, general director at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT),

said a $200 million 30-year loan at 2 percent interest will be used to build two

bridges, create one new national road, and upgrade another, beginning on January

31, 2007.

A 1,060-meter-long bridge will be built across the Mekong River at Prek Tameak in

northeast Kandal province linking National Road 6 in Muk Kampul district to Khsach

Kandal district at a cost of $42.5 million. From there, a new 109-km National Road

8 will be built to the Vietnam border for $71.5 million.

At Prek Kdam in northern Kandal a 975-meter bridge will be built across the Tonle

Sap for $28.5 million to link National Road 5 to Road 6.

The 127-km-long National Road 76 from Snuol district in Kratie province to Sen Monorom

in Mondulkiri will be rebuilt at a cost of $52 million.

On October 24, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Keat Chhon, and the Minister

of Public Works and Transport, Sun Chanthol, signed the $200 million loan agreement

with Shanghai Construction Group and China Road and Bridge Corporation for developing

the infrastructures.

Kong Hean said the Shanghai Construction Group will do three projects - the two bridges

and National Road 8 - and the China Road and Bridge Corporation will construct National

Road 76. He said feasibility studies will be completed by the end of this year, and

work on the two roads will begin on January 31, 2007.

The loan is part of a $600-million aid pledge made by Chinese prime minister Wen

Jiabao during his visit to Cambodia in April. China has provided millions of dollars

in aid in recent years and promised to grant tariff-free status for roughly 400 export

items.

"The companies will take 50 months to construct the two bridges and 40 months

for the roads," Kong Hean said, "After the roads and bridges have been

built, people will find it easier to travel and transport goods across the provinces

and the border."

Just days after the signing of the loan agreement, Prime Minister Hun Sen led a delegation

on a five-day visit to China from October 29 to November 2, to participate in the

15th Asean-China conference.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hor Nam Hong, told

reporters at the airport that China had agreed to a proposal by Hun Sen that China

provide a further $100 million loan for building a bridge at Takmao and rebuilding

National Road 57 from Battambang province to Pailin.

Kong Hean said an upgrading of 60 km of National Road 1 from Phnom Penh to Neak Leung

will also begin in January 2007, financed by a $60 million grant by Japan.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said China is one of the major donors to

provide loans or grants to Cambodia for rehabilitating infrastructure, along with

Japan, South Korea and the European Community.

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