Funan Techo – Cambodia’s ambitious canal project

Funan Techo - Cambodia's ambitious canal project 0
Funan Techo - Cambodia's ambitious canal project 0

(Dan Tri) – Amid concerns from neighboring countries, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet affirmed that he will implement the $1.7 billion Funan Techo (Funan Techo) canal construction project connecting the capital Phnom Penh to the capital Phnom Penh.

A ship transporting containers down the Mekong River (Photo: Nikkei).

Cambodia decided to build the Funan Techo canal

Speaking on April 11, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet said Cambodia had complied with the 1995 Mekong Agreement and had notified the Mekong River Commission about the Funan Techo canal construction project.

He also said: `The Funan Techo Canal is a historic project that will bring benefits to the Cambodian people.`

AKP news agency quoted Mr. Hun Manet as saying: `Construction will be carried out with the cooperation of Chinese partners in the form of BOT (Build – Operate – Transfer).`

Also according to AKP, the canal project will be implemented under the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) mechanism, without the framework of any debt from development partners.

The Council of Ministers of Cambodia on May 19, 2023 approved the Tonle Bassac Logistics and Navigation System project or also known as the Funan Techo Canal after a 26-month feasibility study process with the participation of local governments.

This is the first historic project in Cambodia’s water transport sector to connect the Mekong river system and the sea route.

The Funan Techo Canal is expected to start construction later this year after the state-owned China Road and Bridge Group reached an agreement to implement the project at a Belt and Road Initiative conference last October.

According to the plan, the canal will be 100m wide upstream, 80m downstream, and 5.4m deep.

The project is expected to be completed after 4 years with a cost of about 1.7 billion USD.

Cambodian officials affirm that the Funan Techo canal is only intended to promote the country’s economic activities.

`This critical infrastructure facilitates agricultural activities by providing water for crops, good water management during the rainy season, and increased freshwater fish production, among other benefits,` said the former

Khmer Times newspaper pointed out that this canal will bring many benefits, including reducing current time, distance and transportation costs;

In addition, Cambodian analysts say that the canal will help form commercial zones and logistics centers;

Funan Techo - Cambodia's ambitious canal project

Graphic of the Funan Techo canal project, the red line is the part of the canal that will be built, the blue line is part of the existing Bassac River (Graphic: Straits Times).

The parties spoke up

The Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental organization in charge of water resources management between Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, has also requested and is waiting for Cambodia to share more information about the project.

There is little public information about how Cambodia plans to mitigate other impacts such as disruption to the Mekong Delta’s natural floodplains and relocation of households living along the canal route.

Currently, the only available document on the project is the document in which the Cambodian National Mekong Committee informed the MRC about the project.

However, Mr. Brian Eyler, director of the Stimson Center, said: `The document includes no discussion of actual environmental impacts on the Mekong River. The document also lacks cost and benefit analysis as well as

According to him, with potential major impacts on the environment, the project needs a full technical study before implementation.

Some farmers and fishermen in the project area shared that their livelihoods depend on water sources and they fear that their livelihoods will be affected by the construction of the canal.

Cambodian officials affirm that the Funan Techo canal project is purely for economic purposes.

Many analysts do not rule out the possibility that the Funan Techo Canal could also be used for military purposes.

Military experts say that the Funan Techo Canal will `create the necessary depth, enough for military ships to move from the Gulf of Thailand, or from Cambodia’s Ream military port, deep into the interior`.

However, Khmer Times newspaper quoted Mr. Hun Manet as saying that warships could not go through the Funan Techo canal because the tonnage was greater than the allowable tonnage for this canal.

In the context of many controversies related to the project, the US side has asked Cambodia to make information transparent.

`The people of Cambodia, along with people in neighboring countries and the wider region, will benefit from transparency in any activities that have a potential impact on water management, agricultural sustainability, and sustainability.

The diplomat added: `We urge Cambodian authorities to coordinate closely with the MRC to provide more details about the project, and fully participate in environmental impact assessment studies so that the Commission can

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