Gov’t to Shutter Tolls on National Road 4: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Wednesday that the government would cancel its contract with the AZ Group of Companies, which has collected tolls along National Road 4 since 2002.

Speaking at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen said the ministers of transport and finance would prepare a document for him to sign, imminently canceling the contract.

A driver pays a toll on National Road 4 on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
A driver pays a toll on National Road 4 on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

“Even if the decision is not yet signed, as the head of the Royal Government, I can announce in advance that…from 12 [a.m.] tonight onward, there will be no need to pay any fee for traveling on National Road 4,” the prime minister said.

Mr. Hun Sen said that on January 5, he ordered the AZ Group to stop charging motorists fees for using the highway—which links Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville—beginning on January 7, but that the company did not comply.

“Last night, I was informed that the company did not implement what I announced…and in Ang Snuol [district in Kandal province] there was still payment [being charged]. I have assigned a team to go down to check,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen said the government would now maintain the road by itself.

“Please understand that when the government takes the road back to operate by itself, it will have to spend a big part of its budget to maintain and repair the road. So, of course, it will affect the distribution of the budget in other areas,” he explained.

CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay said he welcomed the prime minister’s announcement.

“We know that the company got the contract without transparency,” he said.

“The company has just spent a little money that does not bring remarkable benefits for the people who have complained a lot about the fee for using this road,” he said.

AZ Group was founded in 1993 by Ing Bun Hoaw, a former CPP secretary of state at the Transport Ministry, and is overseen by his wife, Heng Sokha.

Last month, the premier announced that the government had canceled the 30-year contract of another company, Tollway, to collect money from commuters on the factory-lined Veng Sreng Boulevard, urging factories to use the money saved to better workers’ lives. The company had spent $10.5 million on the road’s construction.

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