PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurated yesterday a $33 million, Chinese-built bridge over the Tonle Bassac River, about 13 km south of Phnom Penh.
The bridge and 12 km of improved highway will help connect National Roads 1 and 2. It will form a key link in a planned southern bypass of Phnom Penh that will divert traffic from city streets.
The long, two-lane concrete bridge also reflects China’s steadily growing influence here. Known as the Cambodia-China Friendship Takhmao Bridge, the span is the sixth in a series of seven Cambodia-China Friendship bridges. The seventh, at Koh Thom, is nearing completion about 44 km south of the one inaugurated today. It also crosses the Tonle Bassac, in Kandal province.
As China’s Ambassador, Bu Jianguo, stood by, Cambodia’s Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek explained the bridge’s role in the regional transportation picture.
“It will be a corridor of ASEAN highway, linking Thailand’ s Bangkok to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, without going through Phnom Penh, the capital,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked China for its aid in infrastructure construction. This bridge was built by the Shanghai Construction Company with a $33 million credit loan from the Chinese government.
“The bridge is very essential for residents at both sides of the river and will contribute to boosting economy and reducing poverty,” he said in a speech during the inauguration ceremony, attended by government officials and local residents.
Sang Sam Oun, a 68-year-old resident Takhmao, applauded the new bridge. A resident since the Khmer Rouge withdrawal in 1979, she said the bridge is far more convenient than the ferry.
“This bridge is very helpful to my travel,” she said. “I can go to the other side of river without paying for the boat. It is also saves me some money and time too, when I have to ship my products to sell on the other side of the river.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen cuts a ribbon to inaugurate China-funded Takhmau Bridge in Kandal province yesterday. The bridge crosses Tonle Bassac River, helping to create a southeastern bypass of Phnom Penh, connecting National Roads 1 and 2. Photo: Xinhua/Sovannara
A map of the bridge and surrounding areas. Map: Jonathan Greig