Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities have put 15 public city buses into use for passengers travelling between Poipet town and the former Khmer Rouge district of Malai, hoping that the bus service will ease travels and help reduce road accidents.
Provincial administration director Chhoeun Kraiyong said the provincial authority put the buses on the road on Saturday.
The bus service, which provides 40km of transport between Malai and Poipet, will carry people every 20 minutes from the main bus stop with a 1km stop on the way.
Kraiyong said passengers can get on the public bus for free in the first three months, but after that buses between Malai and Poipet will start charging 2,000 riel ($0.50) each.
If the service is successful, authorities will consider launching public buses between Poipet and Sisophon town.
“We hope that this public bus service will facilitate people’s travel, reduce costs and reduce road accidents in Banteay Meanchey province.
“I would like to call on all people to use the bus service when travelling between Poipet and Malai,” Kraiyong said.
He said the nine public buses were sponsored by Galaxy Navatra Group Co Ltd, owned by real estate businessman Leng Navatra.
Currently, Malai has two large companies involved in investments, including the Galaxy Navatra Group and a solar power company.
Provincial governor Um Reatrey could not be reached for comment.
However, he said at the inauguration of bus service on Saturday that he supported and appreciated the company’s contribution to providing such a bus service in the province.
He said the people, as well as the authorities, are very happy.
Malai was initially a heavy war zone during the Khmer Rouge regime, he said. Some people were afraid to visit it, but as the country is peaceful now, it has caught the eyes of many investors nationally and internationally.
Navatra could not be reached for comment on Monday.
However, he said in a Facebook post on Saturday: “For the first three months, people travel at no cost, and I am very happy to be a part of national development.”
Banteay Meanchey is the first province to offer public bus services after Phnom Penh.
The capital’s public bus service was launched in September 2014 and its municipal hall has continually expanded the service.
As of this year, 235 buses in the capital run on a total of 13 lines, with more than 20,000 to 30,000 passengers per day.