Cambodia's second expressway project, which will run from Phnom Penh to Bavet town in Svay Rieng province on the border with Vietnam, has an estimated cost of more than $1.6 billion, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed.

The construction contract was signed on November 10 between the ministry and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) – the same company behind the capital-Sihanoukville expressway – in a ceremony presided over by Chanthol.

Speaking during the event at his ministry, Chanthol said the Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway will break ground in 2023 and be completed by the end of 2026 or early 2027 at an estimated cost of $1.638 billion.

“The expressway will be 138km long, with one long bridge to be built and a total detour of 5km. The estimated cost is just a little less than that of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, though its length is shorter,” he said.

According to Chanthol, the construction of the Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway will be underway alongside with the construction of an expressway in Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Moc Bai.

Once these two expressways are ready, he said they would play an important role in connecting China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam via the new Asian Highway 1 (AH1).

“The expressway in Vietnam will run along their Road 22 connecting to our expressway at kilometre marker 164. We will establish the planning in writing while preparing the maps of the expressway,” he said.

Chanthol said Cambodia is expanding AH1 from two lanes each way to four. The highway will eventually run from Poipet to Phnom Penh and then continue on to Bavet to connect with their highway and facilitate export trade and carry passengers to and from China and Vietnam.

The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway – the first in Cambodia – has attracted a great deal of traffic as it allows vehicles to get to the coastal province in just two hours, as opposed to five on National Road 4 previously. More than 440,000 vehicles hit the road during the first toll-free month in October.

In the first nine days of November, with the tolls being charged at a 20 per cent discount, more than 100,000 vehicles had travelled on the road.

Public works ministry spokesman Heang Sotheayuth told The Post on November 10 that the number of users has increased compared to the same period in October.