Cambodia expects to benefit from additional management and development skills in waterways and ports as a member of the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC), Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Eang Veng Sun said on Thursday.
The remarks came on the opening day of the first PIANC-Cambodia workshop in Phnom Penh, being held on Thursday and Friday under the theme Waterway Infrastructure Development.
Veng Sun said waterway transport has played an important role in boosting Cambodia's economic growth. The high domestic demand for goods meant the waterway transport and port sectors needed to meet international standards.
“We hope this workshop will encourage Cambodian ports to support and facilitate the flow of goods for international and domestic trade,” he said.
PIANC is a globally recognised international organisation that promotes the maintenance and development of waterway and port infrastructure. It currently has members in 65 countries, of which 40, including Cambodia, are “qualifying members”.
The acronym PIANC comes from the organisation's former name – the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses.
Veng Sun said the Kingdom was recognised as a qualifying member in September last year.
“The joining of PIANC will ensure enhanced skills in managing and developing port and waterway infrastructure in Cambodia for connection with ports and the shipping community worldwide,” he said.
Speaking at the workshop, PIANC vice-president Hiroshi Hayashida said the organisation's current aim is to provide the public and private sectors with technical assistance from international experts on the economic and environmental issues related to waterway transport infrastructure.
“We want to strengthen mutual cooperation with Cambodia . . . Today's workshop is a symbol of the reinforcement of PIANC's cooperation with the Kingdom,” he said.
Hayashida, who is also president of PIANC-Japan, said Cambodia needed to further strengthen management and technological development in the waterway transportation sector.
"The Japanese government has been helping in the development of new technologies at Sihanoukville port, as well as helping develop operational and management knowledge to serve the sector," Hayashida said.
Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association president Sin Chanthy said the Kingdom's waterway transport sector struggled to attract large vessels as shipping services remained more expensive than in neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand.
“We only see smaller boats carrying goods through Cambodia’s ports, we don't get large vessels,” Chanthy said.
He said the government should encourage the use of waterways to transport goods rather than doing so by land as this was costly and damaged roads.
Ministry of Public Works and Transport undersecretary of state Chan Dara said the government is currently focusing on developing the waterway transport sector.
“We do not want our waterways to remain motionless, without any activity. Transport via waterways will boost Cambodia's economy. It will bring people income and contribute to poverty reduction in Cambodia,” he said.