The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has yet to announce a date when the public will be able to use the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway. The ministry is currently in consultations with the road’s builders to establish a toll system for the road, and expects that the expressway will be in use soon.

Ministry spokesman Heang Sotheayuth said on July 17 that the ministry had issued a July 12 notice prohibiting all types of vehicles from travelling on the road. The notice came following a series of high speed accidents on the as yet unopened highway.

“We have not yet agreed on a date, as we have to formalise some internal affairs between the builders of the road and the ministry. We are establishing a tentative toll management system. The expressway was built as a BOT, or Build-Operate-Transfer, project. This means that after construction, they will charge users to recoup their costs,” he said.

“The company is still testing their toll system, so the public will have to wait,” he added.

The July 12 notice said that the expressway is not yet complete, and still lacked some safety features. A large number of road users had been using the road regardless, and had caused frequent accidents.

In order to avoid disturbing the construction process, the ministry had suggested the company close all exits and entrances of the highway, except for vehicles involved in construction work and those specifically approved by the ministry.

Construction is estimated to be 94 per cent complete, and the ministry expects to open the expressway in September.

Sotheayuth explained that the road would be divided into five sections, with each being tolled separately.

When the road is launched, drivers will collect an electronic card when they enter the toll road. It will record the distance they travel and they will be charged accordingly when they exit. Regular users of the expressway will be able to order a pre-paid card that they can keep in their vehicle, or vehicles in the case of a large company.

The ministry said the expressway spans 187km and begun in March 2019. The expressway connects to Samraong Kraom village I of Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district to village I in commune III of Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville.

The expressway is being constructed by PPSHV Expressway Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Road Bridge Corporation. Technical inspections are the responsibility of Minconsult SDN BHD. Expected to take 48 months to complete, the project cost some $2,000 million.

The four lane road passes through Phnom Penh and four provinces, including Kandal, Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk.

The expressway is the first of its kind in the Kingdom, and is an important strategic corridor project. It will reduce the travel time between Sihanoukville Port and Phnom Penh from five hours to just two, meaning it will greatly reduce the cost of logistics.