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A new way of parking

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Tetsuji Nagata, CEO of Sonatra Group, talks to the Post from his office in Phnom Penh earlier this week. Heng Chivoan

A new way of parking

Aiming to relieve congestion and standardise parking fees in the capital, Sonatra Carling, a Cambodian-Japanese joint venture, has invested $3 million into Cambodia’s first automated car parking system.

The new initiative is being piloted nearby Wat Ounalom, and secures cars in orderly parking spots while measuring the amount of time each vehicle spends in a parking space.

This week, Post reporter Sok Chan, sat down with the firm’s co-founder and CEO, Tetsuji Nagata to talk about his visions for the business.

Why invest in Cambodian car parks?
Sonatra Carling is the sister of Sonatra Group, with the goal of providing a mechanical toll car park system service in Cambodia.

We took almost two years to get approval from the Phnom Penh Municipal authority to run this pilot project.

This project aims to have a proper car parking in the public places and to reduce traffic jams and accidents in the city.

For these reasons, Sonatra Carling has been purchased the Japanese car parking technology system from Japan to install in Cambodia.

How much have you invested in this project?
Currently, we have 31 machines installed around Ounalom Pagoda and that is the first pilot project in which we injected about $100,000, which includes machines and labour cost. For the whole project, we will invest up to $3 million to create more access to the toll car parking system in the 30 places in Phnom Penh.

What will be the cost to use the service?
It is the first pilot project, so customers could pay by the hour for using the parking service. Normally, we charge 25 cents per hour, so about 1,000 riel. I think it is a reasonable price for Cambodians. Moreover, customers also get 24 hour safety and security of their property. Furthermore, they will pay for the exact amount of parking they use.

What are the expansion plans for the project?
The toll car parking system is new to Cambodia. Cambodian people are not yet aware of it or accustomed to this service, but we do hope that Cambodian people will come back to it when they find it hard to park their car along the public place, which can annoy other people who use the road.

For the first pilot, we can not yet say that it is successful, it takes years. What we can say is we want to have a proper parking area in Phnom Penh and to boost the city’s image in public areas.

In the first week of launching this parking system service in July 2015, we received about 600 cars. Now we are importing more about 60 machines to install in another 30 places in Phnom Penh City.

Our future plan is to wait for approval from Phnom Penh City Hall to install in other places in Phnom Penh.

What are the challenges for this project?
What we are concerned about is that some passengers are not aware of this service, so they still park their cars along the public areas.

Secondly, some people use our spaces to park their car which is affects to those who genuinely use our service.

Thirdly, the Phnom Penh Municipal authority has not yet allowed us to install this in more places.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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