T HE Kirirom hydroelectric dam is finally going to be rebuilt after being out of action for 24 years.
The dam was completed in February 1968 with technical and financial assistance from Yugoslavia but the electrical generating equipment and other installations were damaged by acts of sabotage and war in November 1970.
This time the Austrian and Swedish governments have pledged up to $22.5 million, with the first $1 million being spent on assessing the work that needs to be carried out to revive the dam, which lies 100 km southwest of Phnom Penh off Route 4.
Oug Thong Seng, who heads the Kirirom project in the Industry Ministry's Department of Energy, spoke to the Post: "Austrian and Swedish governments will give more than $10 million each for the rebuilding work. The Austrians will take charge of the power plant as the Swedes will have the responsibility over the transmission lines," he said.
"This project will give Cambodia two units of roughly 5.5 MegaWatts (MW) each by the end of 1996."
Phnom Penh has a need for roughly 60 MW of power and its obsolete power generating plants are unable to supply enough to meet demands, causing frequent blackouts around the city.
Seng went on: "An Austrian company, Danube Hydro Austria, has already delivered for $1 million an appraisal report to the Cambodian government in July 1994 to determine the costs.
"The schedule has been approved by both Western governments and the authorities of Cambodia. Finally the rehabilitation of Kirirom which was given priority by the Mekong Secretariat in January 1992 is going to be done.
"As for the security, both Western governments with the help of Cambodia have already spent $64,000 demining of the area.
"Moreover the work, which will start in February 1995 with the repairs of the access roads, will be looked after by a special force. Two hundred to three hundred government soldiers will guarantee the security of the workers."