The feasibility study of a navigation and logistics project to link the Bassac River in Phnom Penh to a "seaport" in the Kampot-Kep region shows that there are no technical, environmental or legal issues, according to the transport ministry.
The Bassac River is a distributary of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers that starts in the capital and flows south to Kandal province’s Chrey Thom village in Koh Thom district, crossing the border into Vietnam. Cambodia largely relies on the Ka’am Samnor gate on the Mekong for international water transport.
The linked Bassac River Navigation and Logistics System (“BRNLS”) project aims to provide a viable and efficient alternative for waterway passenger and freight traffic to enter and exit the Kingdom – without passing through Vietnam – that also reduces transportation and logistics costs.
The General Department of Waterways, Maritime Transport, and Ports -- under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport -- and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) met to discuss the outcome of the study, which was conducted by CCCC Water Transportation Consultants Co Ltd.
Transport minister Sun Chanthol said the study had been conducted to the highest international standards and conventions.
“The BRNLS project will be a tremendous improvement to Cambodia’s waterway transport sector. It is expected that it will reduce the cost of transport logistics,” he said.
Chea Chandara, president of the Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association in Cambodia (LOSCBA), said that if the ministry succeeds in expanding the Kampot port and linking it to the Bassac, it would be a historic achievement.
“Many of our goods are imported from abroad, especially from China. They are usually transported to the Cat Lai and Cai Mep deep sea ports in Vietnam and then transported to Cambodia,” he noted.
“If we can link the Bassac River to Kep or Kampot, we could import and export goods without going through Vietnam,” he continued.
The inland waterway route would be around 180km in length.
The completion of the waterway link will require the excavation of just one new canal, around 7km long, according to Chanthol.
Aside from the singular 7km-long new canal, the waterway link will use existing thoroughfares, the minister affirmed, noting that certain segments will need to at least be deepened.
Although not explicitly named, the Kampot “seaport” is most likely the International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, which broke ground in May on a 600ha plot of seafront land with water depth of 15m, in Prek Tnaot commune, Bokor town, Kampot. The project is expected to cost $1.5 billion – mainly invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd – and accommodate ships weighing up to 100,000 tonnes.