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Minister urges fast-track on study for Siem Reap expressway

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The ‘38-road’ undertaking in Siem Reap was among the slew of projects that were inaugurated in 2022. MPWT

Minister urges fast-track on study for Siem Reap expressway

The transport minister on February 15 requested a fast-track on a feasibility study of a new expressway connecting Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, to sign a deal for the project by the end of the third quarter.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol was speaking at the opening ceremony of the first day of the transport ministry’s February 15-16 annual meeting, which centred on the need to improve quality in the creation of infrastructure as well as transportation systems with a focus on effectiveness, sustainability, inclusivity and human-resource development.

The minister brought up a series of transport infrastructure projects that were inaugurated in 2022, such as the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, the “38-road” undertaking in Siem Reap province, segments of national roads 3, 5, 7, 21 and 51, and a number of bridges.

Noting that several additional roads and bridges broke ground last year, Chanthol emphasised that many projects are “moving fast” in 2023, including preliminary work on the under-study Phnom Penh-Siem Reap Expressway, which he said “the companies have vowed to complete and sign a Framework Agreement for in September”.

The transport ministry previously reported that four companies were conducting the feasibility study for the expressway.

Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association in Cambodia president Chea Chandara told The Post on February 16 that the proposed Phnom Penh-Siem Reap Expressway would connect two of the Kingdom’s “economic poles” and provide a significant boost to economic growth.

He claimed that the project would allow holidaymakers the option to jump from the Siem Reap temples to Preah Sihanouk province’s beaches in no time, and thereby accelerate tourism inflows to Cambodia.

Chandara was alluding to the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway that was soft launched in October, and then formally opened a month later. The two expressways provide a quick route from Siem Reap to Preah Sihanouk’s provincial capital.

He called for more such thoroughfares, in the interest of promoting passenger and freight transportation.

Angkor Tourist Guide Association president Khieu Thy remarked that the expressway would reduce travel times and allow the more time-strapped vacation enthusiasts to visit more areas, and correspondingly drive up the number of tourists to Siem Reap.

“The expressway will make it easier for people who do not have much time to travel to many places, as well as reduce traffic congestion and accidents,” he said.

Thol Meas, a Phnom Penh-Siem Reap taxi driver, said that even a tolled expressway would be more profitable than the existing national highways, noting that one trip in either direction at present can take more than five hours.

The expressway could allow for more trips over a given period of time and promote safety, greatly reducing distances travelled, fuel consumption, and accidents, he said, pointing out how beneficial the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville high-speed thoroughfare has been for motorists and economic growth.

Of note, the government also plans to break ground later this year on the Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway, which has a terminus at the Vietnamese border.


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