New Dry Port Ends Monopoly

Cambodia’s second dry port is scheduled to begin operations sometime this month, and shipping industry executives hope the end of the monopoly held by the existing dry port will improve service and lower prices.

“This gives us the opportunity to choose and let them compete,” said one industry source.

The Cambodia-CWT Dry Port, a Singaporean-Cambodian joint venture, last Friday signed a contract with the department of customs that gave the company the green light to begin operations. Sihanoukville Port Director Lu Kimchhun said he hoped the $20 million facility would open sometime in July. It was scheduled to open several months ago, but was delayed while the government and the company haggled over the amount of a financial deposit.

Both dry ports are on Route 4 west of Pochentong Airport. Ship­ments arriving at both the airport and Sihanoukville Port can be transported to the dry ports for storage and customs clearance.

The opening comes almost two years after the inauguration of Cambodia’s first dry port by Meng Srieng Express Import-Export Transportation.

One freight forwarding agent said the new facility might force Meng Srieng to lower prices, which he said are higher than those at the Siha­noukville port, and speed up service.

Meng Srieng dry port officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Other industry sources doubted there is enough business for both dry ports.

“They need only one because business is not like before [the factional fighting last July],” said one shipping company manager.

But Lu Kimchhun said this week container traffic at the port is increasing steadily and that the number of containers last month was nearly the same as in June 1997.

Public Works and Transport Secretary of State Tran Eav Tek at Friday’s signing ceremony thanked the company for opening before the July 26 polls, which he said shows the company has confidence in the election process and “believes the Cam­bodian situation will become normal.”

(Additional reporting by Khuy Sokhoeun)

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