WORDS ON THE STREET 70th anniversary of Hanoi's Liberation Day Vietnam - Asia 2023 Smart City Summit Hanoi celebrates 15 years of administrative boundary adjustment 12th Vietnam-France decentrialized cooperation conference 31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
May 03, 2024 / 11:18

Vietnam seeks more information on Cambodia’s Funan Techo canal project

Vietnam is concerned about the Funan Techo Canal project and urges Cambodia to closely coordinate with the country and the Mekong River Commission, as well as the international community, to share information on this project.

The Vietnam National Mekong Committee has called on Cambodia to provide information on the Funan Techo Canal project immediately and to participate in joint research on the project's impact on Vietnam's Mekong Delta, as well as reach a common understanding on appropriate solutions to minimize its transboundary impacts.

 The Funan Techo Canal will reduce the transportation distance by over 69 km from the autonomous port of Phnom Penh to the autonomous port of Sihanoukville. Source: khmertimeskh.com

According to the committee, Cambodia's Funan Techo Canal project will upgrade and rehabilitate a 180km stretch of canal/river, including the first section (about 20km long) linking the Mekong River to the Bassac River; the second section running along the Bassac River to the junction with the waterway from the Bassac River to Kep port (about 30kmlong); and the third section, 130km long, connecting the Bassac River (about 20km from the Vietnam-Cambodia border) to Cambodia's Kep port.

According to the Cambodian side, these canal sections have been designed with sufficient dimensions (50m bottom width, 80-120m surface width, and 4.7m depth) to accommodate vessels weighing up to 1,000 tons.

The project will also include the construction of three sluice gates to regulate flow, maintain water levels in the waterway, and prevent saltwater intrusion. These gates will be 135m long, 18m wide, and 5.8m deep. In addition to the above infrastructure, the project will build 11 bridges (161m long, 12m wide) across the canal to facilitate local traffic.

The project is expected to commence in 2024 and be completed by 2027, with an estimated total cargo throughput of 7 million tons per year.

Based on the information provided by Cambodia to the Mekong River Commission, the Vietnam National  Mekong Committee has held bilateral discussions with Cambodia at various levels to express Vietnam's concerns about the project's impact on the Mekong Delta and to request detailed information from Cambodia, including the project's feasibility report and conducting joint research on its impacts.

During the meetings, Cambodia's Mekong River Commission took note of Vietnam's concerns about the project and said it was working with relevant ministries and departments in Cambodia to communicate Vietnam's opinions.

The Vietnam National Mekong Committee has urged the Secretariat of the Commission to assist countries in conducting transboundary impact assessment studies of the project. For its part, the Secretariat is urgently undertaking independent research on the project's impacts, particularly cross-border impacts, and proposing mitigation measures and monitoring.

On April 23, the Vietnam National Mekong Committee, in cooperation with the Secretariat of the International Mekong River Commission, organized a consultation meeting on the project. Delegates at the consultation meeting raised concerns about the project, including its impacts on water resources in the Mekong Delta, especially in the context of the increasing frequency and severity of saline intrusion.

The Funan Techo canal project, which will divert water from the Bassac River, a branch of the Mekong River, to Kep port outside the basin, may diminish water resources in the Mekong Delta, potentially negatively affecting local livelihoods, local production activities, and natural ecosystems. Official information from Cambodia is that the Funan Techo Canal is for transportation purposes only.

However, according to media reports and statements from Cambodian leaders, the canal is also intended to provide irrigation for agriculture and socio-economic development in the southwestern region of Cambodia. There is insufficient information on the operation of the project's three locks.

In this regard, Vietnam hopes that Cambodia will soon share detailed information on the project's objectives, design, and operation, noted the Vietnamese committee.

It also called on Cambodia to immediately provide information on the impacts of the project, to participate in joint research, and to agree on appropriate mitigation measures and monitoring.

Nguyen Thi Thu Linh, Permanent Secretary of the Vietnam National Mekong Committee, highly appreciates the efforts of the Secretariat of the Mekong River Commission in conducting independent research on the project's impacts.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Vietnam National Mekong Committee will continue to closely coordinate with the Secretariat of the International Mekong River Commission, Cambodia, and the member countries of the Commission to accelerate research on the project's impacts, propose mitigation measures, monitor impacts, and continue consultations at the national level.

Regarding Cambodia's Funan Techo canal project, at the regular press conference on April 11, Deputy Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Doan Khac Viet emphasized that Vietnam supports the socio-economic development aspirations of Mekong countries; at the same time, it underscores the importance of enhancing cooperation in the management, efficient use, and sustainable development of Mekong River water resources for the sustainability of the basin's development, the benefits of communities in the basin, the future of future generations, and the solidarity among Mekong countries.

“Vietnam calls for close coordination with Cambodia and the Mekong River Commission to share information and assess the Funan Techo project's impacts on the water resources and ecological environment of the Mekong Delta to ensure harmonious interests of basin countries and people,” noted Viet.