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Bangkok OKs funds for road near border

Bangkok OKs funds for road near border

Thailand to provide $41 million for repairs to road linking Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap.

THAILAND's Cabinet has decided to allocate 1.4 billion baht (roughly US$41 million) for the repair of National Road 68, which stretches for 115 kilometres from Samraong district in Oddar Meanchey province to Kralanh district in Siem Reap province, government officials said Wednesday.

Kem Borey, director general of public works at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said he had been informed of the Cabinet's decision on Tuesday by Thailand's Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA).

"I am going to Thailand now to have unofficial talks with NEDA in order to speed up the process of beginning construction soon," he said.
He added that the repairs - which will include extensive paving - will likely begin at the end of this year or early in 2010.

"Now that we have the budget, we will choose a consultant to study the details, and then we will make a public announcement to have companies bid for [the] construction [contract]," he said.

Yit Bunna, an undersecretary of state at the ministry, said the money would come in the form of a 30-year soft loan.

A Thai government spokesman was quoted by Dow Jones as saying that the loan would carry an annual interest rate of 1.5 percent.

A boon to trade?
The funding commitment came less than one month after Prime Minister Hun Sen, speaking at the July 4 inauguration of National Road 67 in Siem Reap, urged the Thai government to speed up the approval of funding for National Road 68, which he said would bolster bilateral trade between the two countries.

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