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Cambodia heedful of responsibility to give canal information to Vietnam: media

Cambodia heedful of responsibility to give canal information to Vietnam: media

Wednesday, May 08, 2024, 15:31 GMT+7
Cambodia heedful of responsibility to give canal information to Vietnam: media
This combined photo shows Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet and an artist’s impression of the Funan Techo Canal project, announced recently by the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transport. Photo: Khmer Times

Cambodia has not ignored its responsibility to provide Vietnam with detailed information about the US$1.7 billion Funan Techo Canal project, which is expected to commence late this year and be put into operation in 2028, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol has announced. 

Chanthol was speaking at a press conference in Cambodia on Tuesday, in response to Vietnam’s request for Cambodia to share detailed information on the canal megaproject, recently announced by the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transport. 

He reiterated the Cambodian government’s stance that Cambodia is not neglecting its responsibility to share the project's detailed information with Vietnam, both officially and unofficially, Khmer Times cited Chanthol as saying.

The official cited the 1995 Mekong Agreement as saying that activities affecting tributaries of the Mekong River must be notified to the Joint Committee of the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

He then stressed that Cambodia has already fulfilled this requirement by informing the committee about the canal project on August 8, 2023.

Cambodia has an obligation to notify the committee before starting construction and “is not obliged to consult in advance or to have a specific agreement from member countries of the MRC,” Chanthol told reporters.    

“If you require that information, please request it from the MRC,” he stated.

He added that the project includes the involvement of many esteemed organizations, including the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Asian Development Bank, the MRC Secretariat and the CCCC Water Transportation Consultants Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Limited.

An artist’s rendition of the Funan Techo canal project, released recently by the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transport. Photo: Cambodian Government

An artist’s rendition of the Funan Techo Canal project, released recently by the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transport. Photo: Cambodian government

On May 5, Pham Thu Hang, spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Vietnam is highly interested in the canal project and respects the legitimate interests of Cambodia in accordance with the 1995 Mekong Agreement, the MRC’s prevailing regulations, and the traditional and friendly neighborhood between the two countries. 

“We hope that Cambodia will continue to coordinate closely with Vietnam and other countries in the commission to share information about this project and fully assess its impacts on water resources and the eco-environment of the Mekong sub-region,” the spokesperson stated.

Regarding concerns that the Funan Techo Canal project will reduce the flow of the Mekong River, Deputy PM Chanthol said that the future canal only needs five cubic meters of water per second, equivalent to 0.053 percent of the river’s flow. 

He affirmed that once the canal is operational, it would even contribute to mitigating floods in southern Vietnam.

“We aim for a project that benefits not only Cambodia but also our neighbouring countries,” Khmer Times quoted Chanthol as saying.

In recent times, Cambodian leaders have repeatedly shown their determination to implement the canal project, which they said will bring benefits to the entire Cambodian people. 

They have also dismissed worries related to the future canal, saying people strongly support the project.

Addressing concerns that Chinese warships could use the canal, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet affirmed, “We will not allow (any country) to use our country as a base against another country, let alone a military base," AFP reported last month.

The PM recently asserted that no obstacles would deter the construction of the project, which had undergone thorough study for approximately 26 months. 

On May 1, Manet announced he knew that a U.S.-based opposition group was plotting to thwart the canal project, but he underscored that such a plot will not be successful since “millions of people all over the country, young and old, give their support because they know the value of this project,” according to Khmer Times

He previously said that the canal will be built by Chinese construction partners under the build-operate-transfer method.

Construction on the project is expected to kick off in late 2024 at an estimated cost of about $1.7 billion.

AFP cited Cambodian officials as saying last month that the canal will be constructed with Chinese funding.

According to a Cambodian document submitted to the MRC, the canal will be put into operation in 2028. 

This new facility is expected to be 180km long, 100 meters wide upstream, 80 meters wide downstream, and 5.4 meters deep upon completion.

The canal will have 11 bridges spanning it and be able to accommodate ships with a load of 1,000 DWT.    

It will connect the Phnom Penh river port with the Gulf of Thailand, off Cambodia's southwest coast, passing through Kandal, Takeo, Kampot, and Kep Provinces.

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Vinh Tho - Tran Phuong / Tuoi Tre News


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