The government has received a grant of $5.5 million from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to conduct a feasibility study on how the Kingdom’s waterways and ports can be better utilised for transport.
The feasibility study is looking at how to improve the movement of goods along 215 kilometres of rivers and estuaries from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces, said Sokhom Pheakavornmony, secretary of state for Public Works and Transport, yesterday.
“We received a grant aid of $5.5 million from the Korean government through KOICA to improve waterways on Mekong River which is in line with government strategies for this mandate which is to improve linkages of waterways, roads, rail and air transportation,” he said.
“So far, there has been less activities of transportation through waterways on the Mekong River, that is why the government is focusing on improving and encouraging more transport activities through Mekong River,” he added.
Improving logistics along other waterways from Phnom Penh to Vietnam and from Bassac River to Siem Reap province have also been looked at with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Pheakavornmony added.
The waterways will ease transportation of agricultural products, especially rice, from the eastern provinces to nearby provinces as well as the port in the capital, while bringing down the cost of transport, he said.
The feasibility study will include an environmental impact review taking into account the need to prevent bank erosion from possible dredging along the Mekong River, according to a KOICA announcement last week.
David Van, senior adviser to the Cambodia Rice Federation, said yesterday that utilising Cambodia’s 3,000 kilometres of “navigable waterways” for transport was long overdue.
“When donors or private investors, local or foreign, refer to ‘infrastructure’, they all focus on building bridges, roads, railways, ports, but nobody ever, at that time, bothers to look at enhancing our waterways which Cambodia is blessed with,” he said. “In Thailand and Vietnam, all rice business transportation is done using waterways and in Cambodia, we use mainly inland transportation, trucking, which is expensive.”