The World Bank is to lend Cambodia $110 million interest-free to restore the key national highway linking Phnom Penh to the country’s only deep-sea port.
The loan was approved last week by the bank’s board of executive directors under the Road Asset Management Project II.
With the money, Cambodia will improve the condition, safety and climate resilience of National Road 4. It is also expected to provide immediate and effective access for emergency vehicles.
The most-direct corridor linking Phnom Penh to Cambodia’s deep-sea port in Preah Sihanouk province, National Road 4 endures heavy traffic through several economic zones and rich agricultural areas including some large-scale farms.
Through this additional financing, more than 200 kilometres will be upgraded with an overlay of asphalt, shoulders will be replaced and drains and bridges will be built along flood-prone areas.
The finance will also be used for upgrading weighing stations to reduce the risk of overloading.
Road safety will be prioritised through the installation of speed-limit zoning, safety corridors and road improvements that include guide signs, solar-powered lights and speed cameras.
“Cambodia’s economic development relies on National Road 4 as it is the only road connecting the economic centre of the country to the deep-sea port of Cambodia,” project director Pheng Sovicheano said.
Mr Sovicheano, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, added that the project will reduce costs for businesses.
“Improvement of this key corridor will reduce travel time and logistic costs, which will help Cambodia’s economy to be more competitive in the region,” he said.
Inguna Dobraja, World Bank country manager for Cambodia, said that infrastructure gaps are a “significant barrier” to competitiveness and private sector development.
“Upgrading National Road 4 will address this challenge and broaden economic opportunities for Cambodians,” she said.
In February, Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said he had put up a proposal for $100 million in credit to the World Bank to improve and restore National Road 4.
Construction of a separate 190-km expressway between Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province is expected to start before the end of the year. A Chinese company is investing $1.9 billion in the expressway on a build-operate-transfer basis.