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Govt takes back highway from private toll company

Govt takes back highway from private toll company

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

A highway in Russey Keo district will return to government ownership after a private road company fails to develop it

Photo by:
Kem Sovannara

Cows, trucks and cars pass through the toll booth on Street 598 in Russey Keo district.

PHNOM PENH officials have cancelled their contract with a private road company after deciding the firm did nothing but collect tolls.

The Phnom Penh Highway Co, which turned street 598 in Russey Keo district into a toll road in 2005, will be forced to give the road back to the municipality, where it will be put back under government control.

According to a statement Friday by City Hall, following an order given by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the company that ran the build-operate-transfer road project did not implement what was agreed in the contract and left the road "severely damaged".

"The company did not develop the road. They just collected money from drivers - at least 1,500 riels (US$0.37) for a small car," said Kob Sles, deputy governor of Russey Keo district. "It violated the contract."

The contract between Phnom Penh Municipality and the Phnom Penh Highway Co was signed in 2005. In the contract, the company was required to install all necessary infrastructure, Kob Sles said.

"The company did not put street lamps or a drainage system along the road," he said. "We will do all of this."

After removing tolls on the road, city officials said they would start new construction on Wednesday to expand the seven-metre-wide road to 11 metres.  

The road, which stretches between National Road 5 in Russey Keo district to Russian Boulevard in Tuol Kork district, is home to many people, said Kob Sles.

"There will be a small number of families living along the road affected by the new construction," he said, adding that authorities are now working to assess the number of people affected by the plan.

Sun Ly, a resident living near street 598, was happy that the government was removing toll collection from the road, even if it meant that any new construction could cut two metres off his 3.5-metre-by-six-metre house.

"I know the construction will narrow my land, but it is the government's requirement," he said.

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