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Hun Sen demands bus lines

A woman and her granddaughter ride a public bus along Phnom Penh’s Monivong Boulevard
A woman and her granddaughter ride a public bus along Phnom Penh’s Monivong Boulevard during a trial of the service earlier this year. Pha Lina

Hun Sen demands bus lines

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday used the inauguration of the Stung Meanchey overpass to call for the speedy formation of a government bus authority, as the capital eyes two new planned routes and 18 by 2020.

During his speech at the site of the approximately $19 million overpass project, Hun Sen instructed Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong to ensure that the new routes are up and running by the end of his tenure.

“Pa Socheatvong is now 57 years old and will retire in three years, so I ask him to please successfully establish the bus lines,” Hun Sen said.

“The project did not take off under [former municipal governor] Kep Chuktema; Pa Socheatvong has been governor for more than a year, and it is still a failure.”

Ten buses currently run along Phnom Penh’s only line. With the recent arrival of 40 buses from South Korea, service is planned to be expanded with two new routes.

Global (Cambodia) Trade Development was given a contract for Phnom Penh’s sole route, which started service along Monivong Boulevard in March. However, the municipality pulled the firm’s contract a month later, leaving City Hall to run the buses. Fares are currently priced at 1,500 riel (38 cents).

Cambodia has come a long way in developing its capital city since the Khmer Rouge fell in 1979, the premier said. But about 300,000 cars and one million motorbikes now clog up the city’s streets, necessitating a bus service.

“We started [in 1979] from having only houses that nobody lived in,” Hun Sen said. “At that time, people could sleep on the street for a week and never see a car on it.”

Without a private company partner, the government plans on taking this month to create an autonomous transport authority, which will run the current route and the two others being planned.

“We will not lose forever and retreat because of [a lack of] investors,” City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said.

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