The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge will be temporarily opened to ease traffic flow during Khmer New Year next month, a Public Works and Transport Ministry official said on Tuesday.
Chhim Phalla, the ministry’s department of roads director, said the bridge will be inaugurated on April 3 after rehabilitation work is completed ahead of schedule. He said that Prime Minister Hun Sen will preside over the inauguration.
Mr Phalla was interviewed by reporters who were taken to the bridge rehabilitation project site in Phnom Penh during a press tour programme organised by Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japanese embassy on Tuesday.“The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge has been rehabilitated with high-quality Japanese technology,” Mr Phalla said. “We designed this bridge to last for another 50 years and will repair it again if we find any issues.”
Rehabilitation work done included the construction of new entry points and repairs to center portion which crosses the river, and shoring up of the entry and exit embankments.
Mr Phalla urged the public to help preserve the bridge, noting that the project started in March 2016 and was scheduled to be completed only on June 14.
The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge rehabilitation project was carried out through a grant aid of approximately $30 million from the Japanese government.
“The project was completed earlier than schedule through high-quality supervision and an increase in manpower and machinery,” Mr Phalla said. “We had clear plan and the Japanese technology used ensured that construction work would not harm the environment or affect the river.”
“We tried to minimise impact on the environment as much as possible,” he added.
Mr Phalla said that because the bridge repairs progressed faster than expected, the ministry decided that it can be used to ease traffic flow during Khmer New Year.
According to JICA, all road construction and improvement projects in the Kingdom, which are promoted with assistance from Japan and other donors, mainly focus on major national roads in the Kingdom.
It said the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge rehabilitation project on National Road 6A highlights the importance of the bridge as part of a trunk road that provides direct access to the nine northern provinces from the capital.
The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, spanning 709 meters across the Tonle Sap River, was constructed in 1963 through technical assistance from Japan but it was almost destroyed by the civil war in the 1970s.
It was reconstructed via a grant assistance from Japan in 1992 and reopened in 1996 to connect Phnom Penh to other provinces in Cambodia. The bridge facilitates travel, reduces traffic congestion and helps boost economic activities through the transportation of goods.