TRUCKS and vehicles with 25 or more seats have been prohibited from crossing the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge across the Tonle Sap and must instead pay to use the newly finished Prek Phnov Bridge on the city’s outskirts, Phnom Penh municipal authorities said.
In a statement Wednesday, City Hall stated that the change in policy was “to get rid of traffic congestion, which disturbs the traveling into and out of Phnom Penh”. Trucks with a net load of 5 tonnes or more and vehicles with 25 or more seats, it stated, must now use the Prek Phnov Bridge.
The Prek Phnov Bridge, built by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat’s LYP Group as part of a 30-year build-operate-transfer agreement costing around US$42 million, will start charging tolls after the Pchum Ben festival, which winds up on October 8.
City Hall’s decision, however, drew concerns from transport operators that the city’s economy would be hit hard by the decision.
So Nguon, director of the So Nguon Group and co-president of the Transportation Working Group of the Public-Private Sector Forum, said the change “will disturb the economy”, possibly even leading to the closing of garment factories “because goods transportation service will slow and expense on goods transportation will increase”.
So Nguon said that his company’s 100 trucks, which run along National Roads 5 and 6, would “take longer routes [and] take longer time” because of the bridge toll.
At the inauguration of Prek Phnov Bridge on Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the bridge would not charge fees for pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, or motorbike-pulled trucks. Fees for tourist buses, taxis and heavy trucks will range from 5,700 riels (US$1.35) to 34,000 riels ($8.08).
The premier said it would also be cheaper for people to pay to cross the Prek Phnov Bridge than take the Prek Kdam Bridge in Kandal province because of the additional time and gas such a route would take.
Ke Sovannaroth, secretary general of Sam Raing Sy party, said that she supports opening up more city access routes to alleviate congestion, but that they should not cost the public. “We just have a few roads and bridges,” she said. “Why are we charging for using them?”