In an onboard ceremony held in the Mekong near Phnom Penh Port, government ministers,
foreign ambassadors, and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) launched first-ever 24-hour
navigational buoy to be placed on Cambodia waterways.
Workers put the finishing touches on the first ever 24-hour navigation bouy. The internationally recognized system will transform the shipping industry, said Minister of Public Works and Tranportation Sun Chanthol.
"This is the first buoy in a series of 56, plus 12 leading markers over a 100-km
stretch of the river," said Belgian Ambassador Jan Matthysen, at the April 5
launch. "It will improve safety and efficiency of navigation, so that sea-going
vessels and inland barges can proceed in a safe way, 24 hours a day."
Over the next six months, the rest of the navigational system will be installed over
the busiest 100 km stretch of the Mekong in Cambodia. The buoys will mark a safe
channel from Phnom Penh to the Cambodia-Vietnam border.
Installing this internationally recognized system of aids to navigation will transform
the shipping industry in Cambodia and be of great economic benefit to the country,
said , Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol.
"The project will double the sailing window by allowing vessels to navigate
at night," he said. "It will make river transportation to and from Cambodia
much more cost effective and efficient."
Cambodia's potential for exports has grown dramatically over the last few years but
the Kingdom has been hamstrung by the expense of shipping good by road, said Chanthol.
"It is essential that we improve the quality of our waterborne transport,"
he said. "If we can use our river in a more efficient and economic way we can
realize our export potential and this will, in turn, help Cambodia achieve its poverty
Currently, many international shippers would like to increase the volume of traffic
to Phnom Penh, but Cambodia's unmarked shoals and sandbars have deterred them.
"This will soon be in the past as the channel markings will make the Mekong
a more reliable waterway and, as such, a more attractive option for regional and
international traders, freight forwarders, investors, and shipping agencies,"
said Chanthol. "It will help take Cambodia on a path to increased prosperity
and open our ports to the world."
Oliver Cogels, CEO of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said the new navigation scheme
would help promote economic development in all of the countries in the Mekong River
"This exciting initiative will assist in supporting the overall development
of navigation on the Mekong," he said. "Inland navigation is a very competitive
mode of transport for carriage of bulk materials and bulk liquids over long distances,
provided there is a proper network of ports and supply-demand centers, and these
conditions are met."
In addition to economic benefits, the safety of people who navigate, and live close
to, the Mekong river will be improved by the navigation system, said Tram Iv Tek,
secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
"A lack of aids to navigation is the main cause of various accidents from collisions,
ships running aground, and risks for pollution, threatening the ecosystem of the
river," he said. "Many riparians depend largely on the resources of the
Mekong for their livelihoods. A pollution accident could be a serious threat to those
people who often do not have alternatives for income generation."