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Sihanoukville highway work to begin

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An artist’s rendering of the Sihanoukville expressway. MINISTRY OF PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORT

Sihanoukville highway work to begin

An expressway project from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was announced to officially begin construction on March 22, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

After several delays, the $1.9 billion expressway – which has been invested in by the Chinese-owned company Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd – will take 48 months to be completed.

The new highway – with a total distance of 190.3km and a width of 24.5m, and two lanes in either direction – will have a garden in its median and barriers on both sides to protect people and animals passing through.

The road, which is under build-operate-transfer project financing, will be completed early in 2023.

According to plans, the road will begin from Phnom Penh’s Tomnup Kob Srov Road and run parallel to National Road 4 in the east until Kampong Speu province’s Chbar Mon town. It will then pass through National Road 4 to the west side until Sihanoukville’s Prey Nop district, before crossing back to the east side of National Road 4.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya on Monday said Prime Minister Hun Sen will attend the project’s groundbreaking ceremony on March 22.

“The route will be built for 48 months by companies from China,” he said.

Sorya said the ministry is still in the process of compensating land owners who will be impacted by the project’s construction.

“We will pay compensation to the people step by step,” he said.

Vy Samnang, governor of Kampong Speu province – the area in which the expressway is set to pass through – told The Post that provincial authorities were currently surveying the land to identify those who would be impacted.

“Tomorrow [on Tuesday], the provincial working group in charge of the project will meet to report their findings,” he said. “According to informal reports, the determination of the [project’s] impact on the people is near completion.”

Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association president Sin Chanthy welcomed the announcement, saying that when the expressway is put into operation, it will greatly contribute speed and simplicity to the transport sector.

“Even if drivers have to pay [tolls] to take the expressway, considering the current small, crowded road [National Road 4] they have to take now and the nearly 40km it will save, it’s easy to see that not spending so much on petrol will make it cheaper, and times will be slashed as well,” he said.

He added that the route will play an important role in the speedy delivery of goods from Phnom Penh to Cambodia’s main sea port, Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.

According to Chanthy, current freight transportation between the two takes between six and eight hours for a distance of only 232km.

“I think that when this new road is put to use, transport companies will be interested in using the road,” he said. “It will help reduce production costs in Cambodia and help Cambodian goods become more competitive with foreign products.”

The project was signed-off by the Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and China Communication Construction Company Ltd president Liu Qitao early last year.

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