Phnom Penh City Hall has purchased 40 secondhand buses from South Korea for an expansion of the city’s fledgling public bus service, said a municipal official who declined to reveal the details of the order.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the buses are slotted to arrive in Phnom Penh within the next 15 days, but said he could not disclose the cost of the buses or from whom they are being bought.
“We cannot say right now,” he said, declining to comment further.
The public bus service, launched earlier this year, has been marred by a series of murky business deals. The original contract for the bus route was awarded to Chinese-owned Global (Cambodia) Trade Development without a proper bidding process and on the basis of a verbal agreement.
The firm then pulled out after failing to secure a tax break for its taxi business, and City Hall decided to carry out the project alone as it searches for a viable company to carry the service forward.
Ou Kimsan, deputy chief of the transport office at the municipal department of public works and transport, which is in charge of operating the buses until a new investor is found, said he was unaware of the cost of the new buses, or other details of the transaction.
“This is the job of City Hall,” Mr. Kimsan said .
Mr. Kimsan said Phnom Penh City Hall is currently losing money running the service and it must be made profitable to attract investors.
“If the City Hall makes profit, other companies would join,” he said.
The service currently runs a 36-stop service along Monivong Boulevard and the coming expansion will see new lines added.
One will run from Old Stadium’s parking lot to Russei Keo district’s Kilometr Pram Muoy commune and another will connect the Chbar Ampov market to Kandal province’s Takhmao City.
Mr. Kimsan said the 40 buses ordered from South Korea will be capable of carrying between 60 and 70 passengers each and will be in operation in the city by August.
Choi Dae Yong, president of Korean-owned Trans-Choice Cambodia, whose company was passed over by the municipality in the initial bidding process, said that his company is still in negotiations with the city to run its buses.