Vietnam hopes to work with Cambodia to assess impacts of Funan Techo canal: spokeswoman

By VNA, VnExpress   May 5, 2024 | 06:15 am PT
Vietnam is highly interested in Funan Techo canal project and wishes that Cambodia will continue working closely with Mekong River Commission countries to fully assess the project's impacts, a spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang expressed the wish that Cambodia would continue working closely with Vietnam and other MRC countries to share information and fully assess the impacts of this project on water resources and ecological environment of the Mekong sub-region, along with appropriate management measures to ensure harmonious interests of the riparian countries, effective and sustainable management and use of the Mekong river's water resources for the sustainable development of the basin, solidarity among the riparian countries and the future of later generations.

Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Answering a reporter's question about Vietnam’s response to Cambodia's recent statements about the implementation of the canal project on Saturday, Hang said Vietnam always treasures and gives top priority to its fine neighbourliness, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation and long-term sustainability with Cambodia in its foreign policy, wishing that the bilateral relationship would continue to deepen and become more practical and effective in various sectors for the benefit of the two countries’ people.

Vietnam respects the legitimate interests of Cambodia in accordance with the 1995 Mekong Agreement, relevant regulations of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the traditional and friendly neighborliness between the two countries, she said.

She added that leaders of the two Parties and States have consistently affirmed that the historical tradition of solidarity between Vietnam and Cambodia is an extremely important factor, a great source of strength for the past cause of national liberation and independence protection as well as the current process of construction and development of each country.

Vietnam always supports, rejoices at, and highly evaluates the achievements made by Cambodia in recent years, the spokeswoman said.

Le Anh Tuan, a Senior Lecturer at the College of Environment and Natural Resources and the Research Institute for Climate Change at Can Tho University in Can Tho City – the largest commercial hub and de facto capital of the Mekong Delta – said the formation of the Funan Techo Canal will definitely have a negative impact on the region downstream of the river.

Attending a conference discussing the Funan Techo Canal project last month in Can Tho, Tuan said the canal project will flow through a region home to about 1.6 million people, creating a basis for economic development in Cambodia. In the future, the population in this area is expected to increase thanks to urbanization along the canal and the growth of many commercial and logistic facilities.

"During the peak of the dry season, the Bassac River's flow to the Mekong Delta could be reduced by about 50% if all the rice-growing areas in the Funan Techo project region are irrigated," he said.

On May 19, 2023, the Cambodian Council of Ministers approved the canal project to maximize the potential of Cambodia’s waterway transportation by connecting the Mekong River system to the sea after a 26-month study has been completed.

The canal is estimated to cost US$1.7 billion, and would be built by Chinese company CRBC through the build-operate-transfer method. It is set to flow 180 km, connecting the Phnom Penh River port with the Gulf of Thailand in southwestern Cambodia.

The project is expected to have a width of 100 m upstream and 80 m downstream, with a depth of 5.4 m, allowing cargo ships with a total load of up to 3,000 tons to pass during the dry season and 5,000 tons during the rainy season. Construction is planned to start at the end of this year for the canal to be operational by 2028.

*Correction: A previous version of this article mistranslated Le Anh Tuan's statement about possible impacts of the Funan Techo Canal project to the Mekong Delta's water supply. He spoke about change in water flow, not water levels.

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