Monday, April 4, 2011

Address at the Closing of the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

Phnom Penh, March 16th, 2011

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be here in the closing of the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport that has been held over the last two days.

First of all, I would like to commend the management and all level of officials of the Ministry who have been working hard and making noticeable progress on rebuilding and developing the public work and transport sector of Cambodia. This conference is a good opportunity for all of us to reassess the progress, exchange ideas and experiences, identify the weaknesses and strengths, and lay down the measures for future years. In this spirit, I strongly support and encourage the management and all levels of officials of the Ministry to continue your hard work to achieve more successes for the sake of socio-economic development and poverty reduction.

The physical infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, is crucial to the pace of growth and social development as roads and bridges link all corners of the country and link Cambodia to its neighboring countries which will accelerate internal, regional and global integration. In this sense, Cambodia can grab the opportunity to promote trade and cooperation in all sectors.

This indicates that infrastructural construction is a prioritized area that aims at delivering public goods and maximizing the national interests. In particular, transport infrastructure such as roads, railways, waterway, international ports and airports has seen a noticeable development progress. According to the report of H.E. Tram Iv Teuk, Minister of Public Works and Transport, Cambodia has made numerous achievements including asphalt pavement of 2,852.18 Km which is equivalent to 52% of the total length of our national roads and construction of some landmark bridges such as Prek Kdam and Prek Tamak bridges. These achievements perfectly respond to the needs of the people. Moreover, I have recently opened the construction site of Neak Loeung Bridge which is financed by grant of the Government of Japan. This bridge will link the eastern part with the western part and rice production base of the country. The new bridge will promote growth and provide enormous benefits to the people.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to convey my deepest condolences to the people of Japan, especially the families affected by the quake and tsunami on March 11.

As I have already raised, the “Rectangular Strategy” prioritizes the rehabilitation and construction of the transport network including roads, bridges, railways, waterway, ports and airports that link all parts of the country and neighboring countries. The stable, safe and economically efficient transport network are key to the promotion of trade, tourism, rural development, regional and global integration, and protection of national sovereignty and integrity. In this sense, we prioritized the construction and maintenance of rural roads to maintain the stability of transport.

Along with the implementation of this vision, the Royal Government has undertaken multifaceted reform to ensure and directly underpin the sustainable phase of economic growth, of which the construction of roads and bridges is the priority. Therefore, I am still of the view that “Wherever there is road, there is hope” which transform this concept into one of priorities of water, electricity and human. Indeed, these four priorities are keys for socio-economic development at any time and at any stage of development. If there is no physical infrastructure of road, water and electricity together with human resource, then the society will not develop. Someone may argue that if peace, stability and social order are necessary for development, then road, water, electricity and human resource are the key foundations for generating, maintaining and sustaining development. When society has achieves diversified development, they will need more physical infrastructure as well as human resource of higher quality and efficiency.

Nevertheless, as for Cambodia, the goal of developing complete infrastructure nation-wide remains a long way to go due to our limited capability to answer all demands in a short time period. Therefore, we must encourage and mobilize capable development partners and private sectors to complementarily develop physical infrastructures to allow for active participation in shortening the time of socio-economic development for the better.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation must pay further attention to maintaining roads/bridges to maintain their existence and durability as well as to ensure the traffic flow and freighting. In parallel, new infrastructure development projects must accommodate the increase in traffic and freighting activities, follows legal procedure socio-economic impact assessment standard, to be in conformity with public procurement procedure, inventory book and appropriate technical standard, and must be transparent and efficient, by having mechanism to regularly check work activities. Indeed, to follow this spirit, we must have clear policies, management mechanism and concrete measure to efficiently maintain roads in the cities, provinces and at rural areas.

Through such enthusiastic discussion during these last 2 days, I strongly believe that the conference has evaluated and set new plan of actions, measures and directions toward realizing new achievements for 2011 and the year ahead on the development and rehabilitation of public work and transportation sector. In addition to what we have already implemented, the comments raised in the conference and with the objective to promote the development of this sector, I would like to take this opportunity to provide more recommendations as the follow:

First. Continue to cooperate and share experiences with development partners, private sectors and engineering units on the rehabilitation and construction of transport infrastructure to ensure that all construction projects meet the required quality condition and designed for long-lasting use. The ministry has to cooperate with local authority to create traffic accident data compiling system to record all traffic accidents which allows us to deter traffic directions and improve road condition to avoid future accidents.

Second. Continue to pay more attention to traffic safety and transport management, by doing further researches on technique and the cause of traffic accident, to put more traffic signs and lights along main roads. Moreover, the ministry has to deepen reforms to improve the management of all forms of transportation including on-land transportation services and business, waterway and small ports. At the same time, the ministry should plan and encourage the creation of dry ports, warehouses, and cargo services. In particular, the ministry must also pay high attention on the existence of used vehicles and illegal overloading trucks, and those illegal altered vehicles by preparing a particular policy and tough measure which strongly comply with traffic and land transport regulation. “In this regards, I would like to remind the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, local authority and traffic police to continue to take tough measures on traffic offenders such as illegal overloading, and the alteration of original vehicle appearances. I am wondering why we cannot eradicate this problem after having seen all the causes that damaged our roads/bridges so far. I think it is about time to solve these issues. I would like to urge Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen who are responsible to find the best way and to take measure to immediately solve these issues and permanently control them, and not acting as the “ten legs official” as I had often mentioned”.

Third. Improve access to transportation services for a whole year with affordable price. At this point, the ministry should pay attention to the preparation of municipal public transportation action plan to help reduce pollution, traffic accidents, and traffic jams at local communities and rural areas. We can attract investors in transport sector, in which there are many options such as the investment on bus service, airbus and air rail. The Royal Government will continue encouraging the participation from the private sector on transport development and infrastructures as well as posing favorable conditions for free and fair competition along with encouragement and concession.

Fourth. Continue to strengthen and improve safety and security of the shipping services of goods and passengers through strengthening the security on car, ships as well as in the ports and garages ...etc as well as to promote working activities of maintaining small infrastructures and increase road construction, which could be used in all seasons and to promote development of small ports in provinces.

Fifth. Cooperate in trade facilitation and cross border trade, in which we have to inspect, negotiate, and implement the multi-lateral and bilateral international agreements, aiming to upgrade and improve the cooperation for cross border transportation of goods and people, transfer and supply of the regional logistics, international trade, and international tourism facilitation. Along with that, the transportation facilitation and trade along the southern economic corridor, southern sea corridor, central corridor from Vientian - Streung Treng - Phnom Penh - Sihanoukville and a number of important corridors of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and ASEAN and in the framework of triangle development area Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam, ACMECS Cooperation ...etc in order to boost the transformation from transport corridor to be economic corridor, contributing to the regional and global integration.

Sixth. Improve the capability of transportation institution and human resource development, by providing skills training in transportation, and strengthening the human resources in both public and private sector with the vision to provide transportation services with good quality for the people and society. At the same time, we have to implement the competition movement to gain masterpieces in building infrastructure and transportation system of the officials in charge in all municipalities-provinces. Through this, we will be able to find the highly productive officials who have to be given suitable incentives, but those who are passive should be advised.

The Royal Government will actively pay attention to the restoration and development of infrastructure and transportation in order to promote and strengthen domestic and foreign trade as well as regional and global integration, which is the significant interest of the nation and people. In this regard, I strongly believe that the conference will take these recommendations as the spirits for implementing their own roles according to the objectives set by the conference for 2011 and for the social interest.

Once again, I would like to appeal to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and all participants to participate in actively implementing the plan as set in order to achieve new achievements based on the strategy for infrastructure development of the Royal Government. In this spirit, I strongly believe that Cambodia will move ahead with optimism, progress, and prosperity in a more comprehensive and favorable basis as well as ensuring peace, political stability, harmonization of the national fold and sustainable development.

In this occasion, I would like to congratulate and continue to support the management, civil servants, ministries and institutions, and all officials, who have been working together to visit and support our soldiers stationing at the border to protect our territorial integrity at the frontline of Preah Vihear region. I am proud and delighted while the people all over the country get together and support the position taken by the Royal Government in protecting sovereignty, territorial integrity of our Kingdom of Cambodia.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to highly value and express deepest gratitude to the development partners and friend countries who have actively contributed in time that Cambodia is in need to restore and develop its physical infrastructure. These contributions are truly supporting economic growth and have promoted the livelihood of the people of Cambodia based on the set objective.

Before ending, I would like to, one again, thank the management, civil servants, engineering forces, and department and institution, public enterprises, department of public works and transport of Phnom Penh Municipality-provinces of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, related ministries-institutions, private sector, which have supported and promoted the infrastructure sector in Cambodia to be further developed.

Finally, together with the closing of the 2010 Stocktaking Conference and 2011 Direction Setting of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport now, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all Participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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