The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is currently 96.6 per cent complete, with the start date of the pilot launch to be announced this month, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Heang Sotheayut.

Sotheayut said on September 7 that construction on the 187.05km expressway had been affected by people living nearby cutting the wire fencing on either side of the road to allow livestock to cross.

With this having caused disruption to the construction, authorities have warned people on the dangers of entering the highway without authorisation.

The ministry has ordered the fencing to be repaired as soon as possible to ensure safety.

“If the fence is not reconnected and the road closed off, it will allow animals and people to cross in a dangerous place and could lead to serious traffic accidents.

“In addition to repairing the wire fencing, we are also advising residents on the dangers through the local authorities,” Sotheayut said.

Transport minister Sun Chanthol has recently suggested that the Ministry of Interior instruct local authorities to educate those who had cut the expressway fencing as to the dangers.

According to Chanthol, if there are no delays, the expressway will be put into trial operation in early October, with the road free of charge to use for one month.

Kim Pagna, director of the Asian Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) in Cambodia, expressed concerns over traffic safety due to speeding on the new stretch of road.

He called on the transport ministry to inform drivers on the speed limit and how to drive on the expressway with videos and educational material at toll booths, as well as for the installation of road signs and cameras at many locations.

“If possible, they should operate the new expressway like National Road 3, with speed cameras and traffic officers to stop offenders driving too fast.

“We already know that while illegal, some road users drive dangerously and cause accidents,” Pagna said.

The expressway project is 187.05km long, with construction starting on March 22, 2019.

The highway connects Samraong Kraom commune’s Village 1 in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district to Village 1 in Sihanoukville’s Commune III.

It is being constructed by Phnom Penh-based Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd – a subsidiary of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) – with supervision by Malaysian firm Minconsult Sdn Bhd.

The expressway project will have taken 48 months to build at a cost of nearly $2 billion.

With an 8km section in Phnom Penh, the expressway passes through four provinces. The road has four lanes, with a total width of 24.5m, seven intersections, four operation and maintenance centres, 40 main and secondary bridges, and five smaller bridges.

It is the Kingdom’s first expressway project of its kind, and is expected to reduce the travel time from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville from an average of five hours previously to just over two.