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KAMPONG CHHNANG -- For Dul Sarath, the 34-year-old vegetable grower in central Cambodia's Kampong Tralach district, a China-aided rural road project has made traveling and transportation of agricultural produce from farms to town markets easier, saving both time and money.
The mother of four children said on Thursday that previously, due to poor-conditioned rural roads, she had to spend three hours shipping vegetables from her farm to markets in the provincial town about 37 km away, but now with the China-funded rural road project, the travel time is shortened to an hour.
"Previously, traveling on this road was very difficult, and when there was rain, it was heavily muddy," she told Xinhua after attending an event to mark the completion of the China-aided rural road project in the Southeast Asian nation.
"Now, traveling on this road is fast, and not difficult like before, so villagers go to town markets more easily, and they can bring vegetables to sell in the markets conveniently," she said.
Sarath said the new road could be a life line route as it has also enabled patients to travel fast and easily to hospitals.
"Previously, no ambulances would come here, patients were transported by motorbikes, ox-carts, motorized rickshaws, or trucks, and it was really difficult for them to reach medical facilities, but now it is no longer the way it was," she said.
Un Theam, a 34-year-old grocer, also echoed Sarath's remarks, saying that travel on the new road is much faster than before, saving both gasoline and time.
"With this new road, farmers make transportation of their agricultural products such as vegetables or other goods to markets easily," she told Xinhua.
Rice farmer Phan Ngoeu, 70, expressed his gratitude to China for funding the project, saying that the road was necessary to help improve the livelihoods of rural people in Cambodia.
"Villagers have benefited a lot, saving them both fuel and labor, reducing travel time," he told Xinhua. "For example, previously, we spent the whole day traveling to some places, but now we need only two hours."
According to Cambodia's Ministry of Rural Development, from 2017 to October 2022, the China-aided Rural Road Improvement projects, in Phases I and II, had constructed at least 25 rural roads with a total length of 155 km and two new bridges in eight provinces.
Cambodian Minister of Rural Development Ouk Rabun said the roads were a new achievement for Cambodia under the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation with China, saying that the roads were necessary to boost rural economy and livelihoods.
"China has provided a large amount of grant to Cambodia for rural road and clean water development, and China's aid to Cambodia has no strings attached," he said at the ceremony to mark the completion of the second phase project.
"This truly reflects China's commitment and efforts in helping improve livelihoods and wellbeing of the rural people in Cambodia," he added.
Rabun was confident that the new roads would help improve the rural people's living conditions, reduce poverty and boost rural economic development, as well as narrow the development gap between urban and rural areas.
"These new roads will undoubtedly contribute to facilitating travels and transport of agricultural products from farms to markets," he said.
Wu Guoquan, economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy to Cambodia, said that he was pleased to see the new roads in Cambodia's rural areas, which truly reflect the kingdom's rapid development.
"This project will not only promote the sense of closeness between the two peoples, but also nourish the towering tree of friendship between China and Cambodia," he said at the event.
Wu said the road project was just one of the numerous China-aided projects that had been designed to help boost socio-economic development and poverty reduction in Cambodia's rural areas.
"I believe that this project will contribute to further building a community with a shared future between China and Cambodia," he said.