Ministry Plans to Fix Potholes, Develop Public Transport

Transport Minister Sun Chanthol on Wednesday announced an array of plans to reduce traffic jams and road accidents in the new year, ranging from equipping officials with new tools to fix potholes to opening new ferry lines near Phnom Penh and even moving ahead with plans for a raised rail line on the city’s outskirts.

Beginning January 1, a fleet of 65 motorized tricycles filled with road-repair tools and equipment will be distributed among provincial public works departments in an effort to better maintain the nation’s roads, Mr. Chanthol said at the annual meeting of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in Phnom Penh.

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A row of motor-tricycles filled with road-repair tools and equipment are parked at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The small pothole that starts as the size of a small bowl will become as big as a rice plate if it’s not repaired. It will become as big as a vat,” he said.

Each vehicle will carry a 5-kilovolt-amp generator, a spotlight, work gloves, a hand compactor to flatten pavement, safety helmets, road safety signs, 20 cans of spray paint and other tools.

“Today, I will supply them to departments of public works and transportation in five different cities and provinces,” Mr. Chanthol said.

Road workers should use white spray paint to mark potholes and note the date they were marked and a repair deadline, he said. To eliminate potholes, each department employee should take care of a 10 km or 20 km stretch of road, he added.

“I advise all department of public works and transportation staff to exercise every Saturday to Sunday. When they get bored, walk on the road,” he said. “We are just exercising, but we can see the potholes on the road, and then we start to repair them.”

Next year’s plan aims to reduce traffic jams in the capital by developing new public transportation options, including a new skytrain that would make stops at the city’s train station, airport and largest economic zone, Mr. Chanthol said.

“Now we are studying, seeking to buy a kind of light train,” he said. “We will connect the train to the special economic zone for the convenience of our workers.”

Mr. Chanthol said Prime Minister Hun Sen had already approved his proposal to connect the rail line from the airport to the industrial zone. He did not say when the project would start construction or how much it might cost.

The minister also announced a proposal for a ferry system that would pick up and let off passengers in Prek Pnov district in Phnom Penh and three locations in Kandal province—Takhmao City and the districts of Sa’ang and Kien Svay.

“We want our river to look lively. Nowadays, there is not any action on the river,” he said. “It can reduce traffic and traffic accidents.”

Ear Chariya, director of the Institute for Road Safety, agreed that repairing roads and developing public transit could improve the capital’s traffic problems, especially since road maintenance funding remained limited.

In addition to filling in potholes, he said road workers should assess “black spots”—areas where accidents are more prevalent—and cut back roadside trees that limit drivers’ visibility.

(Additional reporting by Matt Surrusco)

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