The French government has offered 350,000 euros (US$507,010) to Phnom Penh to support a feasibility study for a public bus and tram transportation system in the capital.
Speaking at the Council for the Development of Cambodia on Saturday, Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema announced the grant after a meeting with officials at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
“They offered us 350,000 euros for studying the project, but I don’t know how much for the project [in total], it may cost a budget of millions,” he said.
The city will spend eight months on the study, he added.
“What we expect from this project is first, to help with traffic – that is the biggest problem in Phnom Penh nowadays. And second, to help our people to spend less on transportation,” Kep Chuktema said.
“Our people can avoid using their own vehicles, will spend less on transportation and can get to work and school on time.”
The governor said Phnom Penh needed to establish a public transportation system within the next five years, or the city would face more problems from the increase in traffic.
Now, he said, there are an estimated 190,000 cars and nearly one million motorbikes in the capital.
The gift from France came during a two-day visit by French Prime Minister François Fillon.
A statement released by the French embassy said that a representative for SYSTRA, an international engineering and consulting group with expertise in rail and public transport, had inked the deal for the first phase of the study with Kep Chuktema.
Yem Nary, a teacher at Norton University in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that she welcomed the project. She said she would stop commuting by car and switch to public transportation if it proved cheap, fast and easy.
Another Phnom Penh resident, Sok Naychorn, said he was happy to hear about the proposal but was unsure whether City Hall would succeed. “I will wait and see whether the City Hall officials can do their project or not. If it has this kind of public transportation, it will be good for our country,” he said.
Preap Chanvibol, director of the land transport department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said yesterday that a robust public transportation system could reduce traffic and the number of accidents.