Route 4 Tolls To Begin Charging All Vehicles

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.

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