The Ministry of Public Works and Transport issued a directive dated July 14 transferring several services related to waterway transport to the Phnom Penh and provincial administrations.

Watercraft inspections and the issuance of watercraft identification cards and water transport business licences will be handled at a One Window Service Office (OWSO) instead of the ministry.

The ministry said the transfer of authority was made to make the processes quicker, more efficient and transparent.

The OWSO will only authorise watercraft under 90 horsepower with a capacity of 40 tonnes or less and a passenger load of 50 or less.

Operators of larger vessels will still have to apply for services through the ministry.

The ministry said: “The capital and provincial administrations must make regular reports on the inspections of watercraft technical specifications. They must provide business licences to the transport and interior ministries.”

The directive states that all documents must be processed through the OWSO for easy management and implementation and information must be updated at least once a year.

The transport ministry’s General Department of Waterway and Maritime Transport and Ports general director Mak Sideth told The Post on Monday that the revision of the forms and procedures are designed to share more of the workload with the sub-national level.

Sideth said: “We will follow the government, which has transferred some services to the sub-national level. For watercraft over the capacity limited in the directive, they must get the same government service at the transport ministry.”

He said the ministry will train officials at the OWSO to ensure they are knowledgeable about the services offered to citizens.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun praised the transfer of power.

“It is also a way to reduce cost and congestion. People [used to] go to the district or provincial town or to Phnom Penh to seek these services.

“The change also reduces gatherings during Covid-19. I hope the government, as well as its partners, will continue to support and expand the quality and quantity of OWSOs to make it easier for our people to file paperwork and access public services,” Chanroeun said.