The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has decided to allow Royal Railway (Cambodia) to operate the Kingdom’s south railway line as normal, as the ministry needs time to conduct a comprehensive study on the laws and regulations and technical standards relevant to railway operation, a ministry announcement said on Sunday.
The announcement stated that the ministry will also set up a procedure for recruiting qualified professional companies – including Royal Railway, which is a subsidiary of prominent tycoon Kith Meng’s Royal group – to modernise the north and south railway line to comply with practical needs of transporting companies, importers and exporters companies, and passengers in compliances with the international standard.
Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said the ministry needs time to study and assign officials to work with Royal Railway to fully comprehend the operation and management.
“During this time, Royal Railway can operate as normal,” Sorya said.
‘Just waiting for approval’
He said the study on the budget package to compensate for the revocation of the company’s railway licence would take two to three months and would be carried out by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
“It is the duty of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The deal will not be any different from the National Road 4 deal or the [Prek Pnov] Bridge deal."
“The Royal Group’s auditing process will take two to three months. We are just waiting to hear government approval for the railway’s operation and management,” he said.
Royal Group senior vice-president Peter Brongers declined to comment.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday announced the cancellation of the railway licence which was provided to Royal Railways Cambodia, citing the failure of sufficient expansion of the sector’s potential as a reason for the underperformance of the Kingdom’s rail transport.
Speaking at the 18th Government-Private Sector Forum on Friday, the premier said the rail transport sector has seen less success over the past 10 years despite Ministry of Public Works and Transport efforts to promote it.
Royal Railways, the holder of the sole railway operation licence in the Kingdom, has not expanded the sector’s potential and has not sufficiently invested in locomotives, carriages and equipment to meet customer needs, the prime minister said.
“The locomotives are often broken and malfunction, and there is not enough budget to fix and maintain them and for additional investments. This causes an interruption in the timeliness of goods transport and causes the delivery of irregular services.”
Additional reporting by Hor Kimsay.