A $10.5 million toll road along Veng Sreng Boulevard will start charging drivers as of December 1, according to a Wednesday announcement by the Phnom Penh Municipality.
The toll road, built by private contractor Phnom Penh Tollway, will aim to reduce congestion in one of the capital’s most traffic-heavy areas. The company is scrambling to finish construction before the end of the month.
“This is one of the busiest streets in the city,” City Hall said in a statement. “People complain about it almost every day.”
According to Pa Socheatvong, the municipal governor, the impact of rush-hour congestion on and around the road is estimated at $70 million per year in petrol costs and lost travel time, not counting traffic accidents or property damage.
As part of the construction, the company widened Veng Sreng’s 6,500-metre stretch by 10 metres, to a total width of 28 metres. It also thickened the pavement to be able to sustain heavier loads.
In the first nine years of the expanded road’s operation, Phnom Penh Tollway will charge 1,000 riel for small cars, taxis and pickup trucks; 2,000 riel for 12- to 24-seat vehicles and equivalent-sized trucks; and 4,000 riel for 24- to 45-seat vehicles and trucks up to 2.5 tonnes. Trucks above 2.5 tonnes will be charged 8,000 riel and trailer trucks will be charged 10,000 riel.
Between years 10 and 30 of the road’s operation, charges will go up to 1,500 riel for small cars; 2,500 riel for small trucks; 5,000 riel for trucks up to 2.5 tonnes and 10,000 riel for trucks above 2.5 tonnes. Truck trailers will be charged 12,000 riel.
A Phnom Penh Tollway representative, who didn’t provide his name, said the project started in 2013, but delays due to rubbish and uncooperative street vendors made the company have to work “day and night” to finish construction by the end of the month.
Local residents remain sceptical about the company’s ability to meet the deadline. Chan Sokhan, a Phnom Penh resident who commutes along Veng Sreng, said that segments of the road remain unfinished and traffic jams still persist.
“Why is the company rushing to take money from passengers early? They could take more time to finish [the project],” he said.