Plans are on the table for a major new highway linking Phnom Penh to the city of Can Tho in Vietnam, officials said Wednesday.
A report in the Tuesday edition of the Saigon Times quoted Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung as saying he had approved in principle a $1.8 billion expressway on the Vietnamese side that would link the two cities.
Can Tho and An Giang provinces in Vietnam would work together to select the investment plan and investors for the project, the report quoted Nguyen Sing Hung as saying.
Minister for Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said his ministry was studying the project, and referred further questions to the ministry’s Deputy Director-General Pheng Vichumno, who could not be contacted Wednesday evening.
Public Works Secretary of State Mom Sibon said Cambodian officials in his ministry are set to meet with their Vietnamese counterparts in Phnom Penh this Friday to discuss waterway navigation. He said he did not know if the expressway plan would be raised at the meeting.
The highway project, if completed, would shorten considerably the travel-time required for businesses in Phnom Penh to access markets in Vietnam and vice versa.
The primary route from Phnom Penh to Vietnam is currently to Ho Chi Minh City through the Bavet border crossing and takes around five hours. But travel-time is unpredictable mainly due to the required Mekong River crossing at the Neak Loeung ferry port. The route to Can Tho would likely follow National Road 21 through Takhmau town in Kandal province to the border crossing at Chrey Thom, which is considerably shorter than the journey to Bavet.
The 110 km highway linking Can Tho to the Cambodian border is expected to have six lanes with a total width of 35 meters, Le Tan Hoc, director of Can Tho city’s transport department was quoted as saying in a report on the Dow Jones newswires Tuesday.
Global Ventures and KG America will bid to build the highway on the Vietnamese side under a build-operate-transfer model, Le Tan Hoc said, adding that the project might be completed in as little as two years.
Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trinh Ba Cam said on Wednesday that he had no information about the highway project.