Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh Expressway Plans Announced

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) revealed its plans Monday for a Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City expressway that will halve travel time between the two cities.

At an estimated cost of $2.2 billion, the initial target date for completion of the expressway is 2030, JICA representatives announced during a conference at Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

JICA says the highway will cut the travel time between the capital cities from six to three hours. In Cambodia, the road will be built in three phases: Phnom Penh to Neak Leung town, located on the Mekong River in Prey Veng; Neak Leung to Svay Rieng City, and Svay Rieng City to Bavet City on the Vietnamese border.

JICA expects the first section of the expressway to open around 2020. The entire 170 km road from Phnom Penh to Bavet, along with the remaining 90 km to Ho Chi Minh City, is expected to be finished by 2030. The expressway is part of JICA’s wider plan to build a corridor through Southeast Asia, which will also include a Bangkok to Phnom Penh route.

In a report released along with the announcement, JICA says that Cambodia, as it seeks to diversify from the garment sector into value-added industries, is lagging behind the rest of Asia in its ability to transport goods quickly.

“Modern industries with high added value, such as automobile and electronic industries need just-in-time parts supply and speedy and stable transportation of products,” the JICA report says.

The road also aims to further strengthen economic ties between Cambodia and Vietnam. Trade volume between the countries reach­ed $3.5 billion in 2013, up 25 percent year-on-year. Vietnamese nationals also represent the largest group of visitors to Cam­bodia.

Hata Shunji, a JICA consultant, said that expediting the customs procedure between the two countries would be crucial to the success of the expressway.

“Customs clearance is very important. If it takes a long time the project is meaningless, so we are expecting quicker customs and border clearance,” he said.

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