‘It’s not only about the restoration. It’s also about the training of human resources, like stonemasons, engineers, archaeologists and architects. We wish that in the near future [Cambodians] will carry out restorations of their treasures by themselves,” Satoru Miwa, the field director at Angkor Wat, told The Post.
Satoru is tasked with restoring Angkor Wat’s northern causeway, which collapsed in 1952, thanks to a grant from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
Earlier in the day, Soeur Sothy, the director of Japan-Apsara Safeguarding Angkor (Jasa) in Siem Reap, boasted that there was only one remaining Japanese national left helping to restore Angkor Thom. This is again thanks to over 20 years of technical assistance from Japan.
The stop at Angkor National Park was a part of an ongoing press tour coordinated by Jica to highlight various grants, official development assistance (ODA) loans and technical cooperation projects.
“Japan supports the further strengthening of socio-economic foundations to achieve upper-middle income country status by 2030, with a focus on three priority areas – industrial development, delivering a better quality of life, and fostering a sustainable society – through the strengthening of governance,” said Hidehisa Horinouchi, Japan’s Ambassador to Cambodia.
Reporters earlier visited the Battambang Bypass on National Road 5 – a 23.2km stretch of road considered to play a crucial role in the implementation of Asian Highway 1 and the Southern Economic Corridor.
The aim is to expand the width of the road from two to four lanes, while also constructing two bridges and upgrading another 10.
The grant aid for the project, which is already 40 per cent complete, totalled $147 million. By the time the entire scheme is completed, it is estimated the total cost will be $600 million.
Jica and local authorities in Battambang city anticipate that an upsurge in people requiring medical attention will accompany the resulting economic boom.
“As a logistical transit point in the Southern Economic Corridor, the economic growth of Battambang province is expected to result in an increase in population inflow and the number of traffic accidents. This will likely lead to an increase in demand for medical care,” Jica said.
In response to the influx of patients seeking medical attention due to the soon-to-be-opened bypass, Jica has provided an $18 million grant for the construction of a new building for the Battambang Provincial Referral Hospital.
When complete, the building will house a new operating theatre, laboratories for tests, X-ray machines and, crucially, an additional 130 beds for patients.
“Our hospital has 270 beds but sometimes there are more patients than beds. Currently, there are patients sleeping on the floor because there aren’t enough beds for them after surgery,” Kak Seila, the deputy president of the Cambodian Medical Council, told reporters in front of the hospital.
When construction at the hospital is complete – much like safeguarding the treasures of Angkor Thom – administrative authority over the facilities will be handed over to its Cambodian counterparts.