BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 12:03 GMT
First Mekong bridge opens in Cambodia
Cambodian man on his bike looks at the newly built bridge on the Mekong River
The bridge was built with Japanese funding
The first bridge over the Mekong River in Cambodia has been opened, to cheers from local residents.

It is nearly 1.5 kilometres long and cost $56m to build, with funding from the Japanese Government.

This is faster and more convenient

Van Hoeun, farmer
It is expected to boost trade in the country and improve links with Laos and Vietnam.

The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, said the bridge, which is 75km north-east of the capital Phnom Penh, would help develop Cambodia and the Mekong region.

"This bridge will enable us to attract more foreign investment and tourists to visit our country," he said at the opening ceremony in Kompong Cham province.

As Tuesday's ceremony ended, thousand of residents marked the bridge's opening by running along its length.

Faster travel

The bridge connects east and west Cambodia by road for the first time. Before it was built it took more than an hour to cross the Mekong by ferry.

There are no plans to charge people to use the bridge, said officials. They want to encourage Cambodian farmers to bring their produce west to markets in Phnom Penh rather than east to markets in Vietnam.

"Before we had to travel by boat," said one farmer Van Hoeun. "This is faster and more convenient."

Former ferry workers also welcomed the new bridge.

"Even though the bridge has been built, my ferry team is moving to a new location on the river," said ticket seller Sun Nil.

"We still have our job."

The two-lane bridge is named Spien Kizuna - "spien" meaning bridge in Khmer and "kizuna" meaning bond between nationalities in Japanese. Work began on the bridge in February 1999.

See also:

07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Cambodia
23 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Mekong: 'Mother of rivers'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories