Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that the South Korean Booyoung Group will gift the government a further 1,000 modern buses. The company handed over 200 buses to the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall in February, but suggested that the new buses be utilised in the provinces.
The offer of the vehicles was extended as the prime minister met with Booyong Group chairman Lee Joong-keun on April 24 in Phnom Penh.
Hun Sen noted that the previously donated buses had safely transported more than 50,000 people during the recent Khmer New year holidays.
He announced the gift while presiding over an April 25 graduation ceremony for more than 2,000 trainee teachers at the National Institute of Education.
“I met with [Lee] yesterday, and he proposed gifting us another 1,000 buses. He suggested that we use them in the provinces, as many people are forced to use motorcycles, which are less safe than buses. This will reduce the road toll, which is excellent,” he said.
“When he made the offer, I accepted immediately. I instructed a driver to take him to meet with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth to arrange for the 1,000 buses,” he added.
The prime minister continued that he had been promised that the buses would be able to run on hydrogen within the next five years, so they would be environmentally friendly.
“[Lee] does not intend to profit from Cambodia. He merely wants to help the Khmer people,” he said.
He added that the Booyoung group had also said they would like to open a medical university.
“I contacted Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng and instructed him to permit the group to open a higher educational facility. To be frank, we cannot rely on current public or private schools to meet the demand for qualified staff,” he continued.
In February, the group handed 200 buses to the municipal hall, saying that it wanted to contribute to an effective public transport system.
“We want to help reduce traffic congestion in Phnom Penh, while improving public safety and health. If commuters can switch from riding motorcycles in the heat of the day to sitting in comfortable air-conditioned buses reading a book, we think it will be a win-win for everyone,” Lee was quoted as saying by the municipal hall.
At the same time, Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng noted that before the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 30,000 people used the capital’s bus system each day, leading to a noticeable reduction in traffic jams.