Japanese officials will begin studying possible routes for a skytrain connecting Central Market to Phnom Penh International Airport, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Monday after securing a loan agreement with Japan last week.
The project is aimed at reducing traffic jams in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen said at a graduation ceremony on Monday, days after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inked an agreement offering an $800 million loan to complete the project.
Mr. Hun Sen said Abe guaranteed a longer loan payback period and lower interest rates for infrastructure loans.
“It’s expensive, but we have to solve the traffic jam,” he said.
Transportation Ministry spokesman Var Sim Sorya said the Japan International Cooperation Agency will send an expert this week to begin evaluating two or three possible routes.
The proposed skytrain “has no driver, and it’s running on the concrete without rail tracks,” he said.
Mr. Sim Sorya was unable to provide a timeline for the study and declined further comment.
Once completed, the train will resemble elevated trains the premier rode during his visit to Japan, and would offer another option to the cars and motorbikes clogging Phnom Penh’s main arteries, Mr. Hun Sen said.
“In some countries, if people want to buy a car, they need to have a permission letter, and some countries ask people to tax the seller,” he said during the ceremony at Koh Pich Theater. “For our country, this [solution] is impossible because we want to offer the opportunity to employees when they get money, they should buy [cars] while the country is developing.”
The Transportation Ministry is simultaneously developing a ground-bound railway that would connect the city center to the airport.
During Mr. Hun Sen’s three-day visit to Japan last week, Mr. Abe also offered Cambodia $35 million in grant aid for a flood protection program throughout the country and improvements to Phnom Penh’s drainage system, as well as a $209 million loan to develop a new container port terminal in Sihanoukville.