Hailing the Third Phase NR1 9.1 Km
It is my great pleasure today to join with all of our people and Buddhist monks here, with the presence of HE KUROKI Masafumi, Japanese Ambassador, to put into official use the segment of 9.1 kilometer of the national road 1 (NR1), under the Japanese assistance, which links Phnom Penh at Kdei Takoi pagoda, Viel Sbov commune to Koki commune of Kandal province. This is another segment that helps lengthen connection between Phnom Penh on NR 1 to Neak Loeung ferry station, where we will have in 2015 a new bridge also built with the Japanese assistance.
I may recall that on January 5, I came here to preside over the inauguration of the second phase construction of 42 kilometers of NR1 while launching the third phase 9.1 kilometer road. Now we have this segment done as is reported by the Minister of Transport and Public Works, HE Tram Iv Toeuk, and also as is mentioned in the note by the Japanese Ambassador KUROKI. HE Tram Iv Toeuk already reported to you all that constructing the concrete bridges was the first phase of the project. Building the 42 kilometer road was the second phase of the project, while this 9.1 kilometer road construction is third phase of the project.
We still have another four kilometers to complete in order to link the last segment to the bridge of Monivong. Construction of the segment has not yet commenced not because we have not got financial assistance from Japan but we have not sorted out policy for impacts along the remaining segment of the road. You all might have seen already that this segment of the road has been enlarged to serve as a four-lane road.
Japan’s Heartily Assistance
I would like to take this opportune moment to express our thanks, through HE Kuroki to the people and Government of Japan for providing assistance to the Kingdom of Cambodia. As of March this year Japan suffered from the tsunami calamity coupled with leakage of the nuclear electricity plants. Despites all these hardships Japan does not cut off or reduce its funding package of assistance to foreign countries, Cambodia is also included. Cambodia, though is not a wealthy nation, has shared deep sentiment and hardship, as well as condolence with the people and Government of Japan.
In just two weeks, Japan has been quite busy in Cambodia. Last week, you may have learnt that Japan provided Cambodia with over 100 engineering machines to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to strengthen the Ministry’s capacity in dealing with flood. I talked to HE Ambassador Kuroki yesterday that he engineering machines will also be able to dig canals and help in building roads too. I notice that the excavators provided by Japan have got long booms that they can be useful in digging deep canals, while building roads at the same time.
Yesterday, Monday 15 August, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, we signed agreements on grant and loan of the total sum of 50 million USD for the irrigation projects to west of the Tonle Sap – Kompong Chhonang, Pursath and Battambang provinces. There has also been provision of equipments for education, mines and human resources in addition to today’s inauguration of the Japanese built third segment of the NR1. As of now Cambodia received a sum of over two billion USD, a major part of it is grant, already from Japan.
Let’s Wait for the Neak Loeung Bridge
As I thank our Japanese friends, let me also express my appreciation and sincere thanks to the Ministry of Transports and Public Works, local authorities concerned at all levels and our people for their constant efforts in providing smooth cooperation for the construction project to come this far. I would like also to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to the Daiho Corporation contractor and the Katahira & Engineers International consultant for taking all technical efforts to complete the project.
As we will have the full road completed by 2015, along with the constructed bridge of Neak Loeung, I am sure traffic flow along the road will be better. As far as the Neak Loeung Bridge is concerned, I hope that elder people would be healthy to stay on and will observe the joy of the constructed bridge altogether.
It has been quite disappointing that (when under Pol Pot regime) we had almost nothing to eat now we tend to eat too much that death from food intakes has been noticed. Take for instance people have been diagnosed to have diabetes or other diseases because of their food intakes. This is partly true as the country is in peace and our people’s wealth and health have been improved so that they can live longer. It is in this note that I hope our people could look after their health so that we all will be able to put the Neak Loeung Bridge into operation together. Let’s wait for the Neak Loeung Bridge.
As is reported by HE Tram Iv Toeuk and mentioned by HE Kuroki, traffic circulation and safety have been a major and serious issue in our everyday’s life. As we have better roads, the number of road accidents has been on the increase. As I used to say and supported by the recent speech of HE Kuroki, building good roads is not the major cause of traffic accidents but speed that is one of the issues. All drivers must abide by the traffic rule and the speed limit. I therefore demand that all drivers of all means of transports respect their own lives.
On my way here I ran my eye over Kampuchea Thmey and there was a piece of news about an army general who lost his wheel and ran his Lexus into another vehicle. Traffic accident happens irrespective of rank you may have or who you may be. It is noticed that traffic accidents have been caused often by over-speeding and drunk driving. I have demanded my convoy to travel on a high way to Siem Reap province early this month at 70 kilometers an hour. Even at that speed, in one instance when the vehicle had to put on the brake suddenly, inconvenience was caused inside the car.
One other concern is the overloading practice not only for trucks of all sorts but also motorcycles. It is important to reinforce respect of and abide by the traffic rules aimed at reducing the number of accident. It has not been a good thing for a small country like Cambodia to record so high mortality rate from traffic accidents.
Regarding flood threats, as of the moment of speaking, the flood levels at the northern provinces of Stoeung Treng and Kratie have been marked to have gone down. The same is also true for the flood level in Kompong Cham. The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology is monitoring all factors concerned so as to predict the next turn of flood. Traditionally, the next turn of flooding occurs by the time we celebrate the Prochum Ben Day, or about over a month from now. Meanwhile, for provinces down the stream of the Mekong like Pearaing and Sithor Kandal districts of Prey Veng, water level has risen high and the rice fields have been flooded.
In Kompong Cham province, as is told by the Governor on the phone, there have been efforts to move some houses in my native village (of Peam Koh Sna) deeper into hinterland as the riverbank has been eroded by flood water current. In flood area, care and alert must be kept high on children and navigation of high speed engine boats. Concern must also be addressed on issue of healthcare, especially waterborne diseases. We also need to be prepared in term of rice seed and seeds of other crops and vegetables.
Despites concern I mentioned I thought it would be better if the flood water reaches to 10.3 meters in Phnom Penh, whereas at the Phnom Penh flood water monitoring station, the level of water is at 9.60 meters. As of the moment of speaking, flood has been high in the northern and northeastern parts of the country, while lower in the southern area. My reason for higher flood is we would have more water flowing into the Tonle Sap Lake so that fish will be able to recuperate and increase its population.
Inspecting Reports of 35 Fishing Zones
Having come to this, please allow me to continue with what I have declared on July 1, 2011, the National Fishery Day, in the province of Svay Rieng about measures to be taken vis a vis the fishing lots. I would like to take this opportunity to speak to the people in the whole country and to apologize for the second time from our people after my first apology about the need to reform the fishing lots in 2000.
Then, I asked our people in Siem Reap province for an apology and trimmed out some 57% of the fishing lots for their access and household fishing operation. Again today I am seeking another apology from the people who reside in the Tonle Sap Lake basin on my shortcomings in giving authority to junior level officials. You may remember that from Svay Rieng, I have assigned a Deputy Prime Minister, HE Bin Chhin, and concerned ministers, to conduct inspections of all the fishing lots.
For me the report of over ten pages is shocking and I think that I have to break it out. I also think the report should be for public knowledge so that people will understand why the Prime Minister has taken strong measures in relation to this issue. I am of the opinion that the matter must be transparent.
Fishing Not Allowed, a Review in 2015
Along with shock, I have decided to revoke operational licenses from all 35 fishing lots. I have agreed totally with the inspecting committee that the 35 lots in all five provinces – Kompong Chhonang, Pursath, Battambang, Siem Reap, and Kompong Thom – must be suspended. No fishing allowed. This does not apply for household fishing in community fishing area as is recognized by the state.
I am of the opinion that we may have to suspend fishing up to three seasons – 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14 – in those lots so as to let fishes grow big. We will take stock of our measures and policies in 2014/15, whereas decision on which lots should be conserved or allowed for fishing again would be made by then too. It has been shocking that inappropriate fishing has been found as is said in the report where nets with hole as small as that for mosquito have been used to bar fish from traveling out of the zone.
For about three seasons, I am anticipating that the fish will be able to travel as far as Stoeung Treng province, where traveling this far has been impossible every year because of the net. It is already a compromise that the state does not bring those lot operators and fishery officials for punishment. Let me instruct HE Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to order all lot operators to move their equipments out of the zone. I am not worried to lose their supports as long as I have the supports of people in the whole of Tonle Sap Lake area. It has been warned and re-warned but abuse has gone on and on.
Actions taken by the Ministry of Interior and/or National Police have not been effective, while sometimes their officials have been threatened too. It is painful when you have to listen to a story that people could not even row their boats across the lots. I find it when a man was arrested for fishing with a fishing rot in the zone completely unacceptable. Well this is what I have to send as message to the fishing lots in the Tonle Sap Lake basin. However, this should also be treated as message for those operating in fishing lots elsewhere as well. They have to abide by the law.
I would urge urgent technical review and inspecting of fishing permission logbook. Bamboo bars used as barrier to fish movement needs to be defined and thoroughly inspected. We also have to urge that those with rights to operate the fishing lots must deposit a certain amount of money in the bank. Household fishing may go on except large scale fishing which requires permission from the state. And for the permission, they would have to wait for further notice. We must do everything we can to regain population increase of the fish.
Once the review is over, or after the specified no fishing seasons, I would suggest a look into a possibility with three scenarios. We may come to conclude that a part of the lots would be trimmed out for people’s use, a part would be conserved totally and a small part would be allowed for large scale fishing again but with strict technical norms and operation. In case of violation to the said norm of operation, the deposit that interested party put at the Bank would be confiscated.
As far as income from the fishing lots is concerned, the state earns some two million USD per year only. I think the people could earn more from fishing by themselves. So I do not hesitated to come up with this policy. I am not afraid of losing support from those fishing lot operators but I am sure people at large will give me support. Abuse has been large and serious. That is why we have come out with order 01 and the formation of an inspection which leads to the revocation of the 35 fishing lots in Tonle Sap Lake.
As we have a rather big flood, let the fish travels far and breeds and if we fail to catch them, they will not be decayed. I have said similar thing about forest and also about mines. Let’s be serious on that. The message should also serve as warning to those in fishing lots other than in the Tonle Sap Lake. I have said it in every review conference of agricultural issues but these rule/law abusing peoples never care. I have now put out the fire. HE Chan Sarun should now be looking at delegating works (to the provincial authority), managing and controlling violations from recurring in all lots./