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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

ADB Helps Wire Northwest Cambodia with Thai Electricity

Press Release - Asian Development Bank

June 28 2007

A major electricity shortage in northwest Cambodia, including around the tourism hub of Siem Reap, is being fixed with the help of an $8 million loan from the Asian Development Bank to build power lines that will import electricity from neighboring Thailand.

The development will be a boost for the regional economy, not just in tourism but also in agriculture, mining and manufacturing. As demand for power grows, it will also reduce emissions as businesses will not have to invest in new diesel-powered electrical generators.

“This will give the region access to cheaper electricity and a reliable supply,” said Tomas A. Norton de Matos, a Senior Structured Finance Specialist with ADB. “It is also promoting regional cooperation because the electricity will be supplied by Thailand. We worked closely with ThaiExim Bank to enable this project, which also includes trade in Thai equipment and services, to proceed.”

ADB’s Board of Directors agreed on June 27 to loan the money to the (Cambodia) Power Transmission Lines Co. Ltd, a private Cambodian company. The high-voltage grid lines will be the first to be privately owned in the Greater Mekong Subregion. It is the first ADB private sector infrastructure project in Cambodia.

“We are pleased to be investing in Cambodia’s critical transmission infrastructure and to have worked closely with Cambodian and Thailand authorities, and all our partners, in this respect,” said Ly Say Khieng, Chairman and CEO of the company.

Northwest Cambodia, like the rest of the country, suffers from insufficient and unreliable power. There is no national grid and electricity is generated almost exclusively by small diesel plants that generate emissions. This hinders Cambodia’s ability to attract investment and promote sustainable economic activities, which are critical to reducing poverty.

Electricity in Cambodia is among the most expensive in the region because of the disaggregated and isolated small-scale systems.

Siem Reap is home to the famed Angkor Wat temples and is an important and growing tourism center. Many hotels in the area rely on their own power generators. There are similar power shortages in neighboring Battambang, an important agricultural center, and Banteay Meanchey, which supports manufacturing and trading activities.

The 115kV power lines will connect with Thailand’s national grid at the border. They will then run about 221 kilometers mainly alongside National Road 5 and National Road 6 to Siem Reap and Battambang. In addition to connecting the major towns, the new lines will provide opportunities to wire rural communities along the route for electricity.

Work on the project has already started and the first section to Siem Reap is expected to be completed this month or next. The second section to Battambang is scheduled to be completed a couple of months later.

ADB’s $8 million loan will go toward the estimated $32 million total project cost. The balance of funding is being provided through equity, as well as loans from the Export-Import Bank of Thailand and local Cambodian banks.
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Cambodia Town

Ethnic district designation would honor refugees.

There are some understandable concerns being voiced about naming a section of Long Beach Cambodia Town. We have spoken with and received letters from plenty of people who feel that a special designation for Cambodians would be at the expense of blacks, Hispanics and whites who have also hung their shingles along Anaheim Street between Junipero Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.

While we understand these concerns, we do not see how honoring one group's contributions dishonors anyone else's. The proposal the City Council plans to consider tonight recognizes hardworking refugees who have made homes and built businesses in the central city. It does not do so at the exclusion of any other race or ethnicity.

There are indeed people of all nationalities living and working in Artesia's Little India, L.A.'s Koreatown and any number of Southern California ethnic districts. The same is true for what would become Cambodia Town. Such designations merely call attention to a neighborhood's unique characteristics, but not so at the expense of the other ethnicities.

Ethnic districts can benefit everyone in a neighborhood by drawing tourists and diners, something that worn-out stretch of Anaheim Street could use. We doubt, for example, that Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia would draw so many visitors without Little India, but that doesn't mean the city's sizeable Portuguese and Hispanic populations are invisible to outsiders.

In addition, there is something special in recognizing Cambodian refugees - and their children - who escaped a brutal regime at home before finding the American dream in a welcoming city, Long Beach.

Though there is dissent, the proposal has the unanimous approval of the Housing and Neighborhoods Committee and is being carried by the committee's chairwoman, City Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal. Committee polling found support for a Cambodia Town. Here's a little more.
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Cambodia to introduce safer air route from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville

The Cambodian government will introduce safer route between the kingdom's hottest travel destinations Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, thus reducing the possibility of air crash, local press reported on Tuesday.

Future flights between the two cities will avoid mountainous areas judged to be too dangerous, but the detour will mean flights last twice as long, English-language newspaper the Cambodian Daily quoted officials as saying.

It was unclear when any air carrier will begin serving the new route, which is still in the process of mapping, it said.

"The new route is expected to be safer but it needs to detour around the area where we think it isn't safe," said Him Sarun, cabinet chief at the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation.

"We believe the new route will take an hour and a half while the current route is just 45 minutes," he added.

Cambodia's PMT Air Flight U4 241 crashed on June 25 into a Kampot province mountainside en route from Siem Reap and only 51 km from Sihanoukville's Kang Keng Airport. All 22 people aboard were killed.

Tourism is one of the pillar industries of Cambodia. The flight route from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville was just kicked off early this year to further promote the tourist boom.

Source: Xinhua
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