Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked Chinese companies to look into building a high-speed rail system in Phnom Penh and an expressway linking the capital to the new Techo International Airport, which he proposed be “light” in nature, according to a statement.

The request came during a meeting with representatives from three major Chinese investment companies – namely China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC), Beijing Urban Construction Group Co Ltd (BUCG) and “China Metro Group Ltd” – on the first day of his February 9-11 visit to China, as indicated by the statement, posted on the premier’s official Facebook page.

Having built more than 2,000km of roads and bridges in Cambodia, the company representatives present at the meeting showed interest in committing more money to build additional transportation infrastructure, after completing the required feasibility studies, the February 9 statement said.

“The prime minister asked China Metro Group Ltd to study the [two proposed projects in and near] Phnom Penh, which suffers heavy traffic congestion,” it said, hinting at a preference for the aforementioned company to carry out these particular jobs.

The representatives of the three companies affirmed that the Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway – with terminus at the Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng province – would break ground in mid-2023 with completion expected by 2027, to be delivered under a public-private partnership (PPP) structure.

They also briefed Hun Sen on advances made on an inland waterway transport project, a wastewater treatment venture in Preah Sihanouk province, a study on the Phnom Penh-Poipet Expressway, and a “light” high-speed rail in Siem Reap province linking to the new airport, the statement said.

A feasibility study on an underground metro for the capital was completed, and a report submitted to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for review.

Similarly, a preliminary study on a Phnom Penh-Siem Reap Tonle Sap waterway rehabilitation project, which is part of a broader port and waterway transportation project, was completed and documents submitted to the transport ministry.

Initial feasibility studies and preliminary master-plan work are underway for a sewer-infrastructure and wastewater-treatment project covering Koh Kong province’s Khemarak Phoumin town as well as the towns of Battambang and Kampong Cham.

The representatives also brought up their role in the construction of a $2.5 million four-storey Techo Sen Institute of Public Works and Transport (TSI) building comprising an administrative office, classrooms, a library and a laboratory, equipped with advanced experimental equipment, according to the statement.

They also asked for Hun Sen’s support to ensure the success of infrastructure projects following the study phases, it added.

The statement also mentioned that CRBC provided about $2 million for the construction of new buildings for the Techo Sen Koh Thom Hospital in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district.