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Tollway has residents worried

Protesters hold placards during a demonstration at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in Phnom Penh yesterday. They demanded information on the planned high-speed toll road development.
Protesters hold placards during a demonstration at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in Phnom Penh yesterday. They demanded information on the planned high-speed toll road development. Pha Lina

Tollway has residents worried

More than 150 people living along the railway line gathered at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation yesterday, demanding information about the plans for a new elevated toll road that is to connect Phnom Penh’s city centre to the airport.

The protest was sparked by comments from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who confirmed the expressway project at the January 5 inauguration of a new overpass in the capital.

“We have agreed to build the expressway . . . right above the railroad, so the train can freely run below,” he said of the 8-kilometre-plus tollway designed to alleviate airport traffic.

But eight communities living along the railway raised concerns yesterday that no public consultation had been done. “Do not hide it away from the people, the plan has been released and we, the people, know nothing about it,” said community representative Meas Sreymom, who called for a public forum.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport announced three potential options for the location of the expressway in September, but the detailed plans have not been made public.

At a cost of about $360 million, the ministry said, the new expressway is to be built by Chinese firm Henan Provincial Communications Planning Survey and Design Institute (HPC), who will hold a 30-year contract to operate the toll road. Construction is slated to begin this year.

Pov Lathy, director of the public works and transportation department, yesterday said that it was the responsibility of Phnom Penh Municipal Hall to engage the public.

Local authorities advised protesters to submit a formal request for public consultation to City Hall.

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