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Chinese-invested expressway speeds up travel, helps develop talents for Cambodia

Updated: July 18, 2022 07:16    Xinhua

PHNOM PENH — Connecting the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and the deep-sea port province of Preah Sihanouk, the Chinese-invested Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway project will not only further boost the economy, but also contribute to producing talents for the country's infrastructure sector.

Invested by China Road and Bridge Corporation, the construction work on the 187-km long expressway began in June 2019. The $2-billion project is now over 94 percent completed and is scheduled to be open for trial operation in this September.

Nem Sreypov, a testing staff member at the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway's central laboratory, said the job has not only provided her a good salary, but also developed her skills and expertise.

"When I started to work at this laboratory, my impression was that the Chinese experts had taught me how to use every equipment," she told Xinhua. "I feel very excited to work at this laboratory in which equipment is new and modern, and its testing capacity is very accurate."

Sreypov, who has been working for the company for more than three years, said Chinese technicians have trained her how to test the quality of concrete, cement and stone, and now, she can do it independently.

The 26-year-old employee said she was interested in working for the project because since she was born, she had never seen the expressway in Cambodia.

"I'm very proud to participate in the construction of this huge Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway project, and I believe that it will greatly contribute to boosting Cambodia's economic development," she said.

Seng Makkra, a safety officer at the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway's Section 3, said the job was very useful to further develop his ability, giving him a chance to learn new technologies and methods in infrastructure development.

"I love this job very much because it gives me an opportunity to improve my knowledge and skills, and I'm confident that after this project is completed, I will be able to help build other transport infrastructure projects in Cambodia in the future," he told Xinhua.

Makkra, 38, who has been working for the company since 2019, said as infrastructure development demands high expertise and technologies, China Road and Bridge Corporation has greatly helped develop human resources for Cambodia in this sector.

Hu Zhaoguang, general manager of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway project office, said the company provided jobs for local people based on the idea of "both giving them fish and teaching them how to fish."

"Meanwhile, we also focus on passing the skills to them and scale up their ability to improve their lives through work," he told Xinhua.

Hu said the company also put priorities on fulfilling social responsibilities and improving local people's livelihoods.

"Since the start of the project, we have assisted 22 households in need, and the number of localized workers for the entire project has reached more than 3,200," he said.

"I believe that with the joint efforts of Chinese and Cambodian employees, the expressway project will be able to open to traffic on schedule with high quality and quantity," Hu added.

The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is the first-ever freeway in the Southeast Asian country, and it is the fruit of cooperation between Cambodia and China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Cambodian Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said the project has created more than 3,000 jobs for Cambodians and it will play a crucial role in helping boost the country's economic growth when it is open for traffic.

"This project is very beneficial to our Cambodian workers because it provides them with technical know-how on the construction of an expressway, and we hope that after the project, they will be able to use their knowledge to help build other expressways in Cambodia," he said during a visit to the project.

At a length of 190 km, the expressway has a width of 24.5 meters with two lanes with vegetation in the middle. Vehicles will be able to travel at a speed of 100 km per hour, taking only two hours to travel between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, instead of five hours at present.