Connecting Kampong Speu and Kandal provinces in southwest Cambodia, the Chinese-built National Road No51 is playing an important role in facilitating travel flow and transport of goods.

Built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation under a concessional loan from the Chinese government, the 37.9km-long and 12m-wide asphalt road was a strategic route linking National Road No5 in Kampong Speu and National Road No4 in Kandal.

Locals said in the past, the road was bumpy and very difficult to travel due to large potholes, with it very dusty in the dry season, and slippery and inundated during the rainy season.

“Previously, it took almost the whole morning or afternoon to travel this distance, but now it only takes 30 to 40 minutes thanks to the good-condition road,” said Muth Sokleang, a vegetable vendor along the road.

“This Chinese-built road is really important to help facilitate travel and transport of goods and agricultural products such as rice, bananas, mangoes and vegetables from farms to markets.”

Chhem Thath Thay, a 21-year-old resident living along the road, said since the road has been constructed, land prices in the surrounding area have skyrocketed.

“Thank you, China, for constructing this road that has brought us new hope,” he said.

“The road will not only help improve the livelihoods of local people, but also contribute to deepening the bond of friendship between the people of the two countries.”

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his profound gratitude to China for financing the project, saying that transport infrastructure was a key element in boosting economic growth and reducing poverty.

“This road will play an important role in facilitating travel and transport of goods because it hosts many factories and large scale enterprises, as well as residential projects,” Hun Sen said.

“Although Covid-19 has disrupted us, it cannot prevent our development, particularly the development projects undertaken by China.”

A section of National Road No51 in Kampong Speu province. XINHUA

Meanwhile, the prime minister stressed the importance of the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deals, saying both pacts were new boosters for Cambodia’s trade growth.

Wu Guoquan, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, said pragmatic cooperation between China and Cambodia had continuously borne new fruit.

He highlighted that in recent months, some China-aided projects such as roads, bridges, hospitals and the new national stadium have been put into use.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, our pragmatic cooperation has produced more fruitful results which truly reflect the ironclad friendship between China and Cambodia,” he said at the event.

Wu said the China-Cambodia community with a shared future during the pandemic set a model for building a new type of international relations.

“We will continue to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and make good use of the CCFTA and RCEP to push our bilateral trade volume to a new high,” he said.

Cambodian Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said the road has improved both transport infrastructure and livelihoods of the people in both provinces.

“It is another new achievement and a valuable gift from the governments of Cambodia and China to the people in Kampong Speu and Kandal in particular, and to the people across the country in general,” he said. XINHUA