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Bayon to seek more donations for Preah Vihear road repairs

Bayon to seek more donations for Preah Vihear road repairs

Funding drive to pay for construction of a further 1-kilometre stretch of road leading up to the disputed Angkor-era temple site.

BAYON television will ask its viewers for an additional US$500,000 in donations as part of its ongoing campaign to improve road access to Preah Vihear temple, according to company representatives.

Huot Kheang Veng, assistant to Bayon Director General Hun Mana, said that the station had already completed a 3.6-kilometre stretch of road, costing $1 million, and was looking to replace a further 1-kilometre section built by former Phnom Penh municipal governor Chea Sophara almost a decade ago.

The old concrete road had many holes in it and it easily made car tires flat.

"We have finished building the 3.6-kilometre road from the hillside up to Preah Vihear temple, but we are planning to extend the road by replacing the old concrete one," Huot Kheang Veng said Monday, adding that the old road was narrow and riddled with potholes.

"The old one does not fit to the new one, so we need to ask for more donations from people."

He said the $500,000 project would link the recently completed road with Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda close to the disputed temple ruins.

"We are looking for donations from people, and we are spreading information so people can help assist the project with their charity," he said, adding that Bayon television has received more than $1.18million in donations as part of its Preah Vihear road campaign.

Improving access

Yim Phim, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 8, said Monday that the old concrete road was being removed and that concrete had started being laid on the new one.

"The old concrete road had many holes in it  and flattening a lot of tyres," he said.

"We are happy to see the old one is being removed to make way for a new one."

Military engineers are also in the process of paving a road from Anlong Veng district to Sa Em village in Preah Vihear's Chom Ksan district, around 20 kilometres from the temple.

Chum Chamrong, the deputy commander of Preah Vihear province's Military Police, said Monday the road from Preah Vihear provincial town up to the temple was also under construction.

"Roads are being built from different directions towards the temple, and they are helping cars and trucks reach it smoothly," he said.

"But we still have problems on the old concrete road near Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda because it has many holes and steel sticks out, which makes it difficult to travel."

The road-building projects at Preah Vihear and elsewhere along Cambodia's frontier with Thailand were ramped up last year as tensions between the two countries rose amid a military standoff over contested territory.

Citing the need to guard Cambodia against incursions by the Thai military, government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, said the isolated border areas needed to be more heavily populated.

Better roads, they said, would open up the region to settlers.

While the border standoff, which erupted in armed clashes in October appears to have de-escalated,  soldiers remained stationed on both sides.

Commander Yim Phim called the situation at Preah Vihear "normal", but that troops remained vigilant.

"Our soldiers are at the front line and no Thai armed forces made movements ahead into the disputed areas, but we are carefully watching them," Yim Phim said.

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