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SEOUL, October 3 (Itar-Tass) — The South Korean government will repair using its own construction equipment and personnel a 4.5 km section of the highway between Kaesong (North Korea) and inter-Korean industrial complex, an official of the South Korean government said here on Monday.
“We’re in preliminary talks with the North,” the South Korean government official said. “The road repair will begin soon, since the North has told us several times that it needs to be fixed.” The project will cost about 1 billion won (850 thousand US dollars).
This road was built in 2004-2005 with construction equipment and materials provided by South Korea. At the same time the construction of the Kaesong Industrial Complex was underway. Soon after the highway opening hollow spots appeared on it, as the Pyongyang authorities took some building materials from it for other purposes, the Yonhap news agency writes in this regard.
South Korean firms working in the Kaesong industrial park also requested Seoul for assistance in repairing the highway. The hollow spots increase the risk of road accidents and create difficulties with daily transportation to the workplace of over 467 thousand North Korean workers engaged in the facilities there.
Seoul also plans to build at the Kaesong complex a fire fighting station and an emergency hospital for which the Unification Ministry of South Korea that is in charge of all inter-Korean issues, requested 5.1 billion won (4.7 million US dollars).
This is the first such case in the relations between the North and South after last year’s two provocations, including the sinking of South Korean’s Cheonan corvette of which Seoul accused Pyongyang, and the shelling by North Korea’s coastal artillery of the Yeonpyeong Island. A total of 46 navy men were killed in the corvette sinking, and the shelling of the island killed two marines and two civilians.
If the two sides agree, it will be the first time since Seoul imposed sanctions on the North in the wake of the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan last year that South Korean personnel have ventured beyond the Kaesong industrial park, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper writes. The road was built with equipment and materials supplied by the South in 2004 and 2005, when the industrial park was constructed. But problems like potholes soon arose because the North diverted some of the materials.
South Korean firms in the industrial park have been asking Seoul to fix the road, citing the risk of car accidents and difficulty for workers getting to the facility. Seoul also plans to build a fire station and an emergency clinic in the industrial park. A Unification Ministry official on Sunday said the ministry recently asked the Public Procurement Service to find a contractor for the fire station.
According to the newspaper, the ministry has earmarked W5.1 billion for the fire station and engines. Construction will kick off in October and be finished late next year. The ministry will design the clinic this month and break ground in April next year once the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation and Promotion Committee approves it.