Cambodia’s northern railway line has been linked to Thailand at the border in Poipet City, officials said at a ceremony on Monday—although sections of track in Cambodia still need to be finished before trains can start running between the two countries.
At a ceremony marking a milestone in a project that has been underway since 2008, officials including Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said cross-border rail travel, accommodating both cargo and commuters, should be available next year.
A locomotive leaves the Phnom Penh railway station in March. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily) Ly Borin, director of the Transport Ministry’s railway department, said that about 6 km of track remained unfinished inside Cambodia.
Officials broke ground on the 48 km stretch of track between Poipet and Serei Saophoan City in February 2008, with the original completion date set for 2009.
Border logistics are just now being worked out between the two countries, Mr. Borin said, including customs and immigration procedures.
“We’ll be meeting with our Thai counterparts to discuss solutions,” he said.
Also on Monday morning, about 20 people protested outside Poipet City Hall over problems caused by the railway project.
Vorn Voan, 36, who was among the protesters who live along a section of track in Phsar Kandal commune, said they were demanding compensation from local authorities for the noise and danger caused by the construction.
The protesters met Poipet City governor Ngor Mengchroun and Mr. Borin of the railway department after their protest at about 7:20 a.m., Mr. Voan said, but did not reach a resolution.
“The city governor told us not to come here to protest again because it’s not his responsibility to find a solution for affected families. If we come again, he said he would arrest the protesters and put us in prison,” he said.
Mr. Mengchroun hung up on a reporter when asked about the meeting.
Mr. Borin said he had tried to explain the situation to the protesters, but that they were not receptive.
“I told them that the government won’t find a solution for them because they’re living illegally on state land,” he said. “They should say thank you to the government for letting them stay there.”
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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