W ORK has begun on a $30 million Japanese-funded renovation of Phnom Penh's river
port, to allow bigger ships carrying more cargo to dock there.
cargo-handling capacity is expected to be trebled, from about 170,000 tonnes a
year to 570,000 tonnes, by the project.
The 22-month reconstruction will
extend the port's jetty from 180 to 300 meters, and increase its width by eight
meters to 20 meters.
The work would mean that up to 6,000 tones ships
would be able to use the port even in the low water season, port deputy director
Miech Yan said. Since 1980 the port had only allowed ships unloading 10 to 12
tones of cargo to dock.
King Norodom Sihanouk, at a ceremony earlier this
month to launch the project, said the port, along with Cambodia's only seaport
at Sihanoukville, were "most important for the development of our social and
The port renovation is being carried out by Japan's
Penta-Ocean Construction, Pacific Consultants International and Sumitomo Corp in
cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works.
Miech Yan said
2023 ships docked in the port last year, almost double the 1025 the previous
year. Singapore, Thailand, Korea and China were the biggest users of the port,
mostly importing drinks, cigarettes and construction materials such as cement
and steel. He complained that Vietnamese ships often did not dock in the port -
instead illegally mooring along the Bassac River in areas of Kandal province -
and avoided paying port tariffs. "This I consider a big problem because it loses
a lot of income for our country."
Port tariffs remained the same as they
had been under the former State of Cambodia regime, he said, with local ships
paying less than foreign ones.