Due to its massive cost, the expressway project that would connect the capital with Bavet in Svay Rieng province could be put up for public bidding, the Minister of Public Works announced on Thursday after admitting the government does not have enough funds to undertake the project.
According to a preliminary study by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the 130km-expressway connecting Phnom Penh and Bavet on the border with Vietnam will come at a cost of $3.8 billion.
The government is now deliberating on whether to take out loans from developing partners to carry out the project or give it to a private company through a bidding process, in which case the road will be built on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, according to Sun Chanthol, the Minister of Public Works and Transport.
“We are still discussing whether to borrow money from JICA to build the expressway,” he said. “We may not have the budget, but we can find a private company to build the expressway on a BOT basis.”
The expressway is a key project in governmental plans to enhance connectivity with Asean neighbours, and once completed will link the kingdom to the Ho Chi Minh-Moc Bai International border gate in Vietnam, as laid out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by representatives of Cambodia and Vietnam last April.
Another expressway project is also now under consideration. With a length of 190 kilometres, it will connect Phnom Penh with Preah Sihanoukville on the coast and will be built with a loan from China.
According to Cambodia’s Expressway Master Plan, by 2020 Cambodia needs 850 kilometres of expressway which could cost as much as $9 billion. To reach 2,230 kilometres of expressway by the year 2040, the country needs an investment capital of at least $26 billion.