Japan has pledged $26 million for the reparation and preservation of the Angkor Wat Archeological Complex’s western causeway.
The renovation works, which require that a bridge used by tourists to access the site be closed, will not disturb the regular flow of visitors to the world-famous attraction, according to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.
Sok An told some 1,000 attendees at the announcement ceremony on Monday that a floating bridge would be used as a substitute for the original until the work was finished.
“We will close Spean Harl,” he said, referring to the causeway. “Only engineers and workers will have access to work. We won’t stop tourists from visiting the temple, so we will build a temporary bridge for them to last the next three to five years.”
Also the head of the Apsara Authority, the government agency responsible for maintaining Angkor Wat, said the temporary bridge was the best solution to avoid potential damage to the temple’s foundations.
Japan has played an important role in providing both financial and technical support to the renovation of the temples, Kumamaru Yuji, Japan’s ambassador, said via a translator.
The Cambodian government will spend $820,000 on renovating the walkway, supplemented by $767,000 from Japan out of its $26 million total.
Toshiaki Koso, rector of Japan’s Sophia University, said at the ceremony that Cambodian field engineers would also learn valuable skills from their Japanese counterparts.
Spean Harl has twice before been the subject of restoration works, once in the 1960s and again past-civil war.
“The more we restore the work of our ancestors, the more we appreciate their hard work,” An said.
The Spean Harl bridge, stretching about 190 meters, includes two naga-shaped railings and is the main entrance into the Angkor Wat complex, visited annually by some 5 million tourists.
The site was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1992 at the request of the late King Norodom Sihanouk.