8th Cambodia-China friendship bridge brings hope to residents in Cambodia
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Spanning across the Mekong River and connecting Kampong Cham and Tboung Khmum provinces in southeastern Cambodia, the eighth Chinese-built friendship bridge has brought hope of development and ease of doing businesses to residents in both provinces.
Officially named the Stueng Trang-Kroch Chhmar Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge, the 1,131-meter-long and 13.5-meter-wide bridge will ease travel and transport of goods between the two provinces.
Local residents said it is a historic milestone that there is a bridge over the Mekong River linking Kampong Cham and Tboung Khmum provinces.
"Now, we no longer cross the river by ferry or boat. Thank you China for constructing this bridge and we will remember this help for good," Eng Sear, a 34-year-old teacher, told Xinhua.
"This bridge not only links Kampong Cham and Tboung Khmum provinces, but also connects the hearts of the peoples of Cambodia and China," he said. "We hope that this Cambodia-China friendship bridge will bring about better development to the two provinces."
Da Danuch, a 31-year-old civil servant, said when the bridge had not been built, her family spent around 200,000 riels (R779,27) per month for ferry crossings.
"The bridge really facilitates our travel between Stueng Trang and Kroch Chhmar districts, saves us money and reduces our travel time," she told Xinhua. "Previously, it took at least one hour to one-and-a-half hours to cross the river by ferry, but it's convenient now because we have the bridge and it takes less than five minutes to cross the river."
The bridge was developed by the Shanghai Construction Group under a concessional loan from the Chinese government.
On the inauguration of the bridge on Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said China is the key contributor to the country's road and bridge development, saying that more than 3,000 km of national roads in the kingdom have been constructed by China.
"This bridge is one of the achievements under the cooperation between Cambodia and China in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative," he said. "People will greatly benefit from it because they no longer need to spend money to cross the river by ferry. It saves them both time and money."
Meanwhile, Hun Sen highly valued China's support for Cambodia in fighting Covid-19, saying that China's timely and regular vaccine supply has enabled Cambodia to achieve a solid herd immunity earlier than planned.
To date, the southeast Asian nation has administered at least one vaccine dose to 14.1 million people, or 88.1 percent of the kingdom's 16 million population, he said, adding that of them, 13.24 million, or 82.7 percent, have been fully vaccinated with both required shots, and 2.15 million, or 13.5 percent, have received a booster dose.
Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said transport infrastructure plays an irreplaceable role in socio-economic development and that bridges are essential to ease traffics and to boost trade and tourism.
"So far, China has built eight river bridges in Cambodia, and these bridges not only link different parts of Cambodia, but also closely connect the hearts of the peoples of China and Cambodia," he said.
Cambodian Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said the kingdom has so far constructed a total of 15,000 km of national, provincial and rural roads with tar and concrete, 20 large bridges, three international airports, and two international ports.
He added that the nation is currently developing three more international airports for capital Phnom Penh, Siem Reap province and Koh Kong province as well as an expressway linking Phnom Penh and the seaport province of Preah Sihanouk.