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PM asks Japan to invest $800m in skytrain

May Kunmakara and Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Bangkok’s Skytrain is enormously popular with commuters. Below, Prime Minister Hun Sen with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. Reuters

Prime Minister Hun Sen is to ask Japan to invest $800 million in building a skytrain link between the city and Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Prime Minister, who is on a four-day official visit to Japan until tomorrow, wrote on Facebook that he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over two separate investment deals worth $240 million.

At the same time, he will discuss the $800 million rail project to link the capital with the airport.

The railway is to be completed by the end of 2018 and is already under construction. A section, believed to be under consideration for the skytrain link is 1.5 kilometres long.

Transport Minister Sun Chanthol revealed the plans for the railway in July, and said at the time that it will take 20 minutes to travel from within the city to the airport.

He also said the train will be free of charge during its first month of operation.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen met with four Japanese companies that have already invested in Cambodia – Denso, Toyota, Mizuho Bank and Minebea – to encourage them to put more investment into the kingdom.

“Cambodia has a good political environment and good security, with cheap labour and new infrastructure including good water and electricity supplies. Today, many Japanese investors are interested in investing in Cambodia,” he said.

Bangkok’s Skytrain system has eased congestion on its roads and is being expanded. Reuters

Var Sim Soriya, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already conducted a study into the proposed skytrain.

“JICA has given it the green light,” Mr Sim Soriya said.

Ly Borin, undersecretary of state in charge of railways, said he supported the plan, which could help ease traffic congestion for travellers going to the airport.

“We have to study the environmental impact before developing project,” Mr Borin said.

“It can help avoid traffic jams. Sometimes it takes one hour to reach the airport.”

Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force, urged Japanese investors to thoroughly study the environmental impact of the development.

“We believe Japanese companies won’t develop in a way that causes distress to the people,” Mr Phearum said, pointing to the example of the Japanese firm Arakawa, which is redeveloping the White Building and came to a reasonable settlement with residents.

Locals in Por Senchey district’s Ka Kab commune, where the railway construction has already begun, said the government is not being forthcoming with worried residents, who fear evictions and ill affects to their heath during construction.

Trade between Cambodia and Japan in 2016 was $1.3 billion, according to Mr Hun Sen.

Japan is the third-largest investor in the country. Since 1992, it has also been Cambodia’s biggest donor, giving more than $2 billion in official development assistance.  With Reuters

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