The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway management company has decided to lower some prices to encourage container trucking companies to use the road. The trial phase, which has seen heavy traffic, comes to an end in less than a week.
Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Heang Sotheayuth said on October 24 that the company had decided to offer discounted tolls after a recent meeting between the public works ministry of Public Works and China Road and Bridge, the company administering the expressway.
“We led a meeting to discuss some pricing issues, including towing and crane services in the event of a breakdown or accident, and the cost of using the expressway. The ministry was able to successfully negotiate a reduction in fees,” he added.
According to Sotheayuth, it is the right of the company to set prices, while the ministry is responsible for reviewing and supporting their decision making process. The new pricing will be announced as soon as the final figures have been agreed upon.
“People who use the expressway will see the prices marked clearly on a large blue banner on the right of the entrance,” he said.
The proposed reduction in fees came about as a result of the private sector and the general public expressing reluctance to use the road due to the high costs.
Cambodia Logistics Association president Sin Chanthy welcomed the ministry’s consideration of the private transport sector, and said private companies were prepared to maintain their vehicles to the high standard that the expressway demanded.
“We are ready to use the expressway responsibly, and we hope the government will facilitate a reasonable reduction in freight rates,” he said.
According to the businessman, a return ticket for a container truck is currently priced at $120.
A young woman in Phnom Penh said that although the expressway contributes to reducing travel time, the issue of price will be an obstacle for middle class Cambodians like her family.
When approached for an interview, she refused, adding: “You can quote my earlier comment.”
The trial period will end on November 1, and users will then be charged.
Three weeks after the trial began; traffic on the expressway was composed of 70 per cent private vehicles and 30 per cent commercial trucks. Between ten and fifteen thousand vehicles passed through every day.
The Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is Cambodia’s first, and is the result of cooperation between Cambodia and China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Construction of the 187km road began in June 2019 at a cost of $2 billion.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said that the project created more than 3,000 jobs for Cambodians and that it would play a key role in boosting the country’s economic growth when it opens for traffic.