The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is in talks with the company which operates the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway to set pricing for emergency services on the new road, after criticism from the public on the pricing structure for such services. The rates charged by towing and crane operators currently begin at $100.

“Not all drivers enjoyed their experience on the new road. My car broke down at the Stung Hav exit, which is just 14km from National Road 4, but I was charged more than $100. I am not sure how they calculated the fee – it appears that they charge $100 for up to 10km, and 30 cents per kilometre thereafter,” said one unhappy motorist, in video posted to social media.

Heang Sotheayuth, spokesman for the ministry, told The Post on October 11 that ministry was currently negotiating the cost of emergency services on the road, and that pricing would be announced before the November 1 official opening.

“The ministry has not yet finalised the costs of towing. We are taking the public’s concerns into consideration,” he said.

He added that in accordance with the rules of the expressway, if a vehicle breaks down or crashes and is unable to proceed, the driver should call an expressway service officer on 1399. For the safety of the public, private vehicles may not tow one another. Based on the exit ramps, the furthest a vehicle will need to be towed is 70km – with an average distance likely to be just 30km.

Another social media account with the name of Asmak Hosen posted on October 9, along with photographs of several damaged cars on the expressway, claiming that a towing company had damaged her car.

“The tow truck operator was unprofessional and has damaged the rear bumper of my vehicle – who is responsible? The bumper will cost me a lot of money to repair, in addition to the costs of towing. I would like a clear answer from the management of the expressway,” she wrote.

Sotheayut explained that in this case, he had contacted the towing company and resolved the issue immediately.

“In this case, we have agreed to pay damages to her, through the company. She was just reluctant to accept, for fear the company would take the cost from the staff member’s salary. We mediated, and resolved the situation,” he added.

An expressway service officer, who asked not to be named, told The Post on October 11 that each use of a crane or towing service cost $100 initially, with an additional transport charge of 30 cents per kilometre.

While the expressway is free for the month of October, from November 1 it will cost between $12 and $60 per use, depending on the vehicle.

The nearly 200km road passes through Kandal, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces and takes about two hours to travel from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, as opposed to the four to six hours the journey previously took via National Road 4.

From October 1-9, more than 100,000 vehicles passed through, with up to 16,000 per day using the road.