Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced his support of a planned waterway taxi service and encouraged those in charge of the project to ensure its launch before the Khmer New Year.
Speaking at a river festival in Kandal province’s Takhmao city on Saturday, Mr Hun Sen said he supported the waterway passenger transportation project that will run from Takhmao city to Phnom Penh and other locations.
“We have to strive to strengthen and expand waterway transportation for both people and goods, and for tourism,” he said. “It is a point that we cannot ignore, because in the future the waterway transportation will reduce traffic congestion on the roads and help get overloaded vehicles off the roads that are causing damage.”
“Those that are clever will use this system to avoid the busy roads,” he added.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport revealed plans to build a network of inland ports along the Mekong River with the aim of facilitating the movement of passengers and agricultural goods earlier this year.
Transport Minister Sun Chanthol is working with the Korea International Cooperation Agency on the project.
“It’s a good thing to prevent traffic congestion and it’s also easier than using the roads because it is far when we drive a car from there, but the boat is three times faster without traffic congestion on the waterway, so we have to use all of our natural resource potential,” said Mr Chanthol.
The envisioned waterway passenger system will be composed of 15 stations, or docks, built across the capital, from Prek Phnov in the north to Takhmao city and Kean Svay district in Kandal province, using the Tonle Sap, Bassac and Mekong rivers.
Phase one of the transport scheme will oversee the construction of six of those stations which will be used solely for the transport of people, Mr Chanthol said, noting that the transport of goods would be possible under the next phase, with ports built along the rivers for the shipment of agricultural products.
Mr Chanthol said the launch of passenger waterway transportation from Kandal province’s Takhmao city to Phnom Penh was scheduled to start on April 6.
In the first phase, there will be four passenger boats at six port locations, including two boats imported from Vietnam, which cost nearly $200,000.
According to the ministry, the passenger transportation boats can accommodate 50 to 60 people and are equipped with air conditioning and safety equipment.
The passenger boats will travel from Prek Pnov district to Takhmao city, about 25 kilometres, in about 34 minutes on average.
Oeun Borey, a Phnom Penh resident, expressed support for the project yesterday.
“It is great, the waterways will help to reduce congestion on the road, and another thing, it can reduce traffic accidents,” he said.