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Sihanoukville expressway nears construction

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
The expressway will reach Sihanoukville’s deep-sea port. KT/Mai Vireak

A construction team composed of 200 workers from China has arrived in the Kingdom to begin work on an expressway that will connect Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, with the groundbreaking ceremony expected before the end of March.

Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said recently that $100-million worth of construction materials will be imported into Cambodia before the end of January, adding that now the only issue that needs to be solved is compensation to those affected by construction work.

“The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Economy and Finance are still working on the compensation issue, and hope to have it resolved soon,” Mr Chanthol said.

The expressway project will be built on a build-operate-transfer basis by state-owned Chinese Communication Construction Company Ltd, with construction costs estimated at nearly $2 billion.

The expressway will stretch over 190 kilometers – shorter than the current road, which runs for 240 kilometers. It will have four lanes for the majority of its run and will take four years to complete.

According to ministry spokesman Va Simsorya, about $150 to $200 million will be used for compensation, with the funds coming from the Cambodian and the Chinese government.

The first of its kind in the Kingdom, the expressway will alleviate traffic from National Road No 4, the busiest thoroughfare in the country, which connects the capital to Sihanoukville’s deep sea port, the main gateway for exports and imports.

The new infrastructure will increase logistics efficiency in the country and help reduce road accidents, industry players believe.

Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, said, “We’ve been waiting for this expressway for a long time because National Road No 4 has too much traffic.

“The number of vehicles in the road keeps increasing every year, but the road is not expanding, so we need a new road badly,” Mr Chanthy said. “The new expressway will enhance efficiency in the transportation of goods.”

According to a recent report from the Ministry Transport, Sihanoukville’s port handled 537,107 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) in 2018, while Phnom Penh Port handled just 205,000 TEUs.

Another expressway project, linking the capital with Bavet City in Svay Rieng province, on the border with Vietnam, is now under consideration, with preliminary studies being conducted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

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