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Japan’s grants aim to ease Phnom Penh’s traffic woes

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Other than the $30 million sum granted by the Japanese government through JICA for the renovation of Chroy Changvar Bridge, an additional $16 million was also provided to aid the development of a new traffic management system for Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Japan’s grants aim to ease Phnom Penh’s traffic woes

Workers are putting the finishing touches to the capital’s Chroy Changvar Bridge before its official reopening on April 4, in time for Khmer New Year.

The bridge has been under renovation since October 2017, thanks to a $30 million grant aid issued by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency [JICA] and the Embassy of Japan in Cambodia.

Construction crews were busy painting fixtures and attaching guardrails on Tuesday when 27 members of the press arrived on site for a tour organised by JICA.

Chroy Changvar Bridge, also known as the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge, not only serves the Kingdom’s transport needs, it also plays a key role in the cooperation between the two nations.

Originally built in 1963 with technical assistance from Japan, it was twice nearly destroyed during the civil war of the 1970s. Previous grant aid from 1992 allowed for its reconstruction before it was reopened in 1996.

“Over the past 30 years, Japan has been providing support to Cambodia from its initial peace process through the subsequent reconstruction and to economic development."

“The Japanese government has provided about $3.9 million by fiscal 2018 as Overseas Development Assistance [ODA],” said Hidehisa Horinouchi, Japan’s ambassador to Cambodia.

The bridge, spanning 709m, connects the capital with nine provinces in the northeastern part of the Kingdom.

The restoration project aims to “eliminate the traffic bottleneck and contribute to the Cambodian National Strategic Development Plan,” JICA and the Embassy of Japan in Cambodia said.

“Road construction and improvement projects are promoted with assistance from Japan and other donors, mainly focusing on national roads in the country,” a statement read.

The $30 million grant for the project doesn’t require it to be repaid, and the bridge will be handed over to the government to be maintained after work is complete.

JICA also gave an additional $16 million in grant aid for the development of a new traffic management system for Phnom Penh, including monitoring systems in the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall and 100 new traffic lights.

The project aims to lower traffic accidents, reduce the need for traffic police at intersections by 20 per cent, cut the travel time cost for commuters on Monivong Boulevard by $2.5 million, and see a 14 per cent improvement in the average speed in the city centre – from 12.5km/h to 14.2 km/h, JICA said.

The facilities, run by the Department of Public Works, includes traffic signal controls, a CCTV system, network monitoring and a video wall that automatically displays parts of the city requiring attention.

The Department of Public Works is able to control the length of traffic light flows, from a minimum of 60 seconds to a maximum of 213 seconds.

In some cases, they can help resolve disputes stemming from traffic accidents.

Officials from the Department said they had noticed an improvement in traffic conditions, but they were unable to quantify how much things had improved since the traffic control centre began operations in February.

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