March 5, 2014
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka, center, visits the site of construction of the Neak Loeung Bridge in Cambodia.
Visiting Cambodia Feb. 26-27, JICA President Akihiko Tanaka held talks with Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and visited the construction site of the Neak Loeung Bridge, which will span the Mekong River.
On Feb. 26, Tanaka headed for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from the border with Vietnam using National Road No. 1. The gap in the road at the Mekong River is the sole missing link (roadless section) in the Greater Mekong Region Southern Economic Corridor, which ties Bangkok, Thailand, with Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Currently large ferries travel between the shores of the river, carrying people and cargo.
Tanaka boarded a ferry, confirmed its operational status and then visited the site of the Project for Construction of Neak Loeung Bridge (1). He saw for himself how important shortening the Mekong River crossing time (2) is in terms of regional development.
On Feb. 27, in talks with Hun Sen and Aun Pornmoniroth, Cambodian minister of Economy and Finance, Tanaka said he expects initiatives by Hun Sen to improve the country's governance, and all parties affirmed they would further advance and deepen the two countries' relationship, symbolized in the agreement on a strategic partnership reached at a recent summit between the two prime ministers.
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka, center, listens as Heng Ratana, left, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, explains unexploded ordnance.
On the same day, Tanaka visited the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and held talks with its director general, Heng Ratana. Since 1999, while receiving assistance from JICA, CMAC has made great strides in removing mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. And in recent years, it has engaged in South-South cooperation to other countries (3). In light of those achievements, JICA honored CMAC with a JICA Recognition Award in 2013, and Tanaka directly expressed appreciation for CMAC's diligence during his visit.
On Feb. 27, Tanaka visited the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center, including a business show and Angkor-Kizuna Hall. Tanaka, his Cambodian counterparts who operate the center and JICA experts discussed the importance of supporting industrial human resource development in Cambodia in the future.
(1) As of this writing, 70 percent of the construction is complete, with a goal of completion in March 2015.
(2) As of this writing, it takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to cross the Mekong River, including time spent waiting for the ferry, but it is impossible to cross at night because the ferry does not operate at night. After the completion of Neak Loeung Bridge, the time required to cross is expected to be reduced to 5 minutes.
(3) About 50 percent of the land in Cambodia cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance and about 70 percent of removed mines and unexploded ordnance are the work of CMAC. Now CMAC is using its accumulated expertise to greatly expand its South-South cooperation. This has included training in Colombia, Laos and other countries, and visits by observers from Angola and Myanmar.