All motor vehicles traveling on National Route 4 between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville will be charged fees at toll booths starting Jan 3, the private company that operates the tolls announced Wednesday.
AZ Investment Co Ltd announced that taxis and family vehicles will pay $1.40 for a trip from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. Mini-buses will pay $2, buses $2.50, and trucks under 6 tons between $1.50 and $2.50. The highest fee, $18, will be paid by container-carrying trucks traveling between the capital and the port city.
One toll booth is located between Phnom Penh and Srey Ambel, and one between Srey Ambel and Sihanoukville.
The company already takes fees from cargo-carrying vehicles. In May, it warned drivers of other vehicles of the new charges but did not implement them right away.
AZ Investment is chaired by Ung Bun Hauv, a CPP parliamentarian for Takeo province. AZ also operates an Internet-based overseas calling venture under a revenue-sharing agreement with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication.
According to a company statement, the fees were authorized by a March 2001 concession agreement between AZ Investment and the government and the fee includes a 10 percent value-added tax.
Keo Sotha, administrator for AZ Investment, said that AZ will get 70 percent of revenues from the tolls in the first year. He declined to comment on when AZ expects to turn a profit during its 35-year contract with the government, but he said that AZ overspent on its budget to improve the road.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said Wednesday that the contract between AZ and the government was illegal because it was awarded without a competitive bidding process. He added that he planned to set a date to question Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and AZ Chairman Ung Bun Hauv before the National Assembly’s transportation committee.
Son Chhay lamented the creation of what he said was a new business hurdle for companies using the port. He also urged ordinary people to refuse to pay the tolls.