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Overloaded vehicles at issue

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A truck overflowing with cargo on Street 371 at Boeung Tumpun commune in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district yesterday.

Overloaded vehicles are contributing to a more rapid than anticipated deterioration of Cambodia’s road network, experts said yesterday.

“The cost of overloading causes problems to everyone involved, but it is easy to control damage if we have good system in place. This is the only instrument we have to stop it,” said Asian Development Bank Senior Transport Specialist Shihiru Date on the sidelines of a conference on the issue yesterday.

The ADB has funded an axle-load control programme as part of a US$1 million technical assistance package to support government rehabilitation of about 150 kilometres of the Kingdom’s roads.

Under the programme, six weigh stations began operation on March 15, with one more to begin later, in a bid to reduce damage from excessive loads on transport trucks.

Cambodia’s infrastructure has improved significantly in the past ten years, though further improvements are still to come, said Shihiru Date.

“Now that almost all the national roads are paved, the second step is to focus on provincial and rural roads, of which only 25 percent and 1 percent are paved respectively,” Shihiru Date said.

He added that the rural economy is becoming increasingly dependent on improved road networks. However, rapid growth in traffic volumes, combined with a lack of financing and maintenance, continues to cause damage.

Cambodia’s road network of about 39,600 kilometres comprises 2,100 kilometres of national roads, 9,500 km of provincial roads and 28,000 km of rural roads, according to an ADB statement.

Although the implementation of the weigh stations is welcomed by many as improving the Kingdom’s logistics, other steps remain to be taken.

“We support the installation of these stations, however, our concern is that there is still unfair competition from [trucking] businesses that are not registered,” said Cambodian Trucking Association Executive Director Sok Chheang.

A regulation was proposed at the Government and Private Sector Forum in April 2010, requiring businesses to register with the Cambodian Trucking Association if they owned in excess of ten trucks.

However, only registered companies pay certain taxes, providing a disincentive to register with the association, he claimed, adding unregistered companies in particular overloaded freight vehicles.

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