The Ministry of Economy and Finance has earmarked about $2 million to improve a 68km road from Siem Reap to Oddar Meanchey provinces to make travel easier and cut down delivery times of agricultural products.

This is according to a January 19 meeting held in Siem Reap to discuss the upgrades to the road, which stretches from northeastern Siem Reap’s Svay Leu district to neighbouring Trapaing Prasat district in eastern Oddar Meanchey.

The meeting was attended by officials from both provinces as well as the public works and finance ministries, along with other people involved in the undertaking.

Citing finance ministry officials, the Siem Reap Provincial Administration said the $2 million would also go to work on 30 bridges in Trapaing Prasat as well as “artistic structures” in Siem Reap.

Oddar Meanchey provincial governor Pen Kosal confirmed that at least the 41km stretch in Siem Reap’s Svay Leu district – from Angkanh village, Svay Leu commune north to Aphivath village, Kantuot commune – is double bituminous surface-treated (DBST).

The remaining 27km segment, in Oddar Meanchey’s Trapaing Prasat commune and district, runs from Tomnup Thmey to Trapaing Prasat villages, he said, noting that work had previously been done on this stretch of road by Ly Chhuong Construction Co Ltd.

However, construction was “temporarily” halted by the government, which drew criticism from social media users, he added.

Kosal described the road as a “strategic route” of the army that has also benefited residents of both provinces, making travel easier between the two localities and greatly reducing times required to move farmers’ produce to market and the Thai border in Oddar Meanchey.

And citing public works officials, the administration said work on the 41km and 27km segments had been respectively entrusted to Samdech Techo Engineering Corps of Siem Reap and the Oddar Meanchey provincial Department of Public Works and Transport, with the latter expected to have the construction work finished “in three years”.

Siem Reap provincial governor Tea Seiha stressed that the province’s economic strengths lie in agriculture and tourism, commenting that – even at the height of the Covid-19 crisis – the government had provided funds for an extensive road construction project to promote the latter.

He expressed confidence that the latest 68km project will support the economy and people’s livelihoods.

At the meeting, a team was set up to monitor work on the project and ensure that instructions from the finance and public works ministries are carried out.