A public transport system based on boats, known as water taxis, for the capital is in its first stage of development, with officials saying it will be ready by April, in time for Khmer New Year.
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 rivers Tonle Sap, Bassac and Mekong, Transport Minister Sun Chanthol announced last week.
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 will be possible under the next phase, with ports built along the rivers for the shipment of agricultural products.
Authorities hope the new transport system will help alleviate worsening traffic problems in the capital and provide tourists with more options to move around the city.
Work on the project is now focused on finding the right location for each of the 15 planned stations. Officials are also debating whether or not to allow private companies to run routes and operate crafts in the new transport system.
“Officials from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and from the Phnom Penh Municipality are visiting small docks already under construction and trying to determine whether or not they will work for our waterway transport system,” the minister said.
Each boat will be 14 metres long and 3.9 metres wide and will be able to carry 48 passengers, according to the official master plan.
Other key facts about the project remain in the dark, including the overall budget.
“There is still a lot of work left to do, but we hope to launch the service by April this year,” Va Simsorya, a spokesman at the Transport Ministry, told Khmer Times yesterday.
“If we cannot get the six stations we want ready by April, we will at least have three or four online by Khmer New Year.”
Phnom Penh Autonomous Port and an unnamed private company have applied for permission to operate boats in the new transport system, according to Mr Simsorya.