Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh Expressway Plan Moves Forward

Cambodia and Vietnam are moving forward with plans to develop an expressway between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City following a meeting between the two countries’ transportation ministers.

Transport Ministry spokesman Nou Vathanak said on Thursday that the Cambodian government had been studying a proposed 167 km toll road, which would connect the two cities through Svay Rieng province’s Bavet City, since last year.

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Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, right, poses with a Vietnamese transportation official in Hanoi this week, in a photograph posted to the ministry’s Facebook page. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Currently, the shortest route to Ho Chi Minh City is about 232 km along National Road 1, and also crosses the border at Bavet City.

The new road and required new bridges along the route would need private investment to complete them, Mr. Vathanak said, though he did not know the project’s potential cost or timeline.

“It will serve to increase the logistics, speed, quality and safety of [the transport of] goods,” he said.

According to a ministry statement about the meeting in Hanoi, Transport Minister Sun Chanthol and his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Quang Nghia discussed improving connections between the two countries.

Mr. Quang Nghia expressed his country’s “strong commitment to continue to assist Cambodia in the infrastructure development and improved connectivity,” the statement said.

He also noted the importance of cooperation when studying and constructing the possible Phnom Penh-Bavet-Ho Chi Minh expressway, it said.

Mr. Chanthol said during the meeting that any increased connection between the two countries was an opportunity to improve trade volumes and tourism, according to the statement.

Mr. Vathanak, the spokesman, said he had not received specific details of the discussion, as Mr. Chanthol would not return from Vietnam until today.

John McGinley, managing partner of Mekong Strategic Partners, a Phnom Penh-based investment and advisory firm, said the potential project showed promise—so long as it was well-executed.

“Anything that would improve transportation links and increase Cambodian competitiveness is absolutely a good thing,” he said. “Given the state of the roads here, I think it’s a good outcome for the country.”

(Additional reporting by Janelle Retka)

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