Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese ambassador Wang Wentian on January 2 broke ground for the construction of a new bridge which will span the Mekong River in Kratie province. The bridge is expected to bring “rapid economic development” to the people of Cambodia’s northeastern regions.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said the bridge – which will be 1,761m long – will connect Bos Leav commune’s Talus village on the east side of the river with Thma Reab village to the west.

The project will include 31.69 km stretch of new roads, which will integrate the new structure into the province’s transport infrastructure.

The ministry noted that the project will connect to National Road (NR) 6, NR71B, NR7 and NR73.

The project is estimated to cost a total of over $114 million, financed through a Chinese concessional loan. The construction is projected to take a total of 42 months.

The projects will be implemented by Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) with quality control managed by Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co Ltd.

“This strategic project is not only vital for connecting the people of the western and eastern parts of the province, but will also connect many rural areas to major townships and markets,” said Chanthol.

Hun Sen said the bridge would ease the difficulties of the people of the province as it would save the amount of time they spend crossing the Mekong.

“Once construction is complete, it will play an important role in helping our people in their daily commutes and improve access to emergency health services. It will also improve the safety of students travelling to school,” he added.

The bridge will be the longest of the eleven bridges China has supported, with four of them also spanning the Mekong.

Chinese ambassador Wang said that under the Belt and Road Cooperation initiative, China and Cambodia had achieved several notable accomplishments in infrastructure development.

“This bridge is merely the latest achievement of the One Belt One Road joint project between China and Cambodia. It will improve traffic flow on both sides of the Mekong and improve the residents’ livelihoods,” he said.