Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian on December 26 inaugurated a project to upgrade the 95km-long National Road (NR) 41.

Connecting NR4 in Kandal province to NR3 in Kampot, the project has a budget of $67 million.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Hun Sen called for understanding from people living in the areas of construction, saying the project will deliver great benefits when completed.

“The building of the road will prove very beneficial, which is why we are willing to invest the capital. We have spent more than $46 million in the past, and now are to spend another $67 million for the construction of this road. All of these achievements have come from our concerted efforts,” he said.

China has assisted Cambodia in building necessary infrastructure, including roads and bridges, he added.

The Chinese government has contributed to the construction of some 30 roads in Cambodia, with a length of more than 3,000km at a cost of nearly $2 billion. Three more roads are under construction at a cost of more than $500 million, while nine major bridges have been completed.

“The joint destiny of the Cambodia-China comprehensive strategic partnership has established trust, and in addition to providing grants, our Chinese friend has also provided concessional loans for Cambodia’s development,” Hun Sen said.

“And it is not just roads. China has also helped with large-scale irrigation systems for the provinces and in other areas.

“This can be seen in all the achievements, with our people travelling on the roads and on the bridges, attending schools, receiving treatment at hospitals and accessing water for their rice fields.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said at the ceremony that the upgraded NR41 will connect Thnal Totueng in Kampong Speu province, at the intersection of NR4 in Kandal, with Chum Kiri district in Kampot, at the intersection of NR3.

With a total length of more than 95km, the road project – scheduled for completion in 2026 – will take 40 months to build, with a total budget of $67 million, he noted.

The project is being funded by a concessional loan from China, with contribution funds by the Cambodian government.

Chanthol said NR41, which passes through four provinces – Kandal, Kampong Speu, Takeo and Kampot – is important economically. It will connect major international ports such as the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and Kampot multi-purpose port, as well as the logistics centre under construction at the Kampot tourism port and the newly built Kep-Koh Tonsay tourism port.

The road will also connect eco-tourism sites in Preah Sihanouk, Kep and Kampot provinces through NR3, NR4, NR31 and NR33, he added.

“The completion of this road will facilitate the easier movement of residents and tourists, and the transportation of all kinds of goods and agricultural products – such as rubber, pepper, fish, salt, rice and fruit – to both local and international markets.

“NR41 will also contribute to the development of major tourist sites and coastal areas such as Preah Monivong Bokor National Park and Koh Tonsay. It will also help ease congestion on NR3 and NR4,” Chanthol said.

Chinese ambassador Wang said China “fully supported” Cambodia.

“China will continue to adhere to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cambodia, and support the choice of Cambodia’s development path in line with the Kingdom’s national conditions.

“China strongly supports Cambodia in its economic development and in improving the living standards of its people, and fully supports Cambodia’s role in regional and international issues,” he said.