A feasibility study is underway on a proposed 135km expressway connecting the capital with the Bavet-Moc Bai International Border Gate that links Svay Rieng province with Vietnam’s Tay Ninh, as the government confirms more specifications.

The Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway is designed to boost connectivity with Vietnam and spur economic ties between the two border provinces, with a special focus on export growth.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport on February 24 held a meeting with relevant ministries, institutions and technical officials to hear comments and gather input on the project and the feasibility study.

Minister Sun Chanthol encouraged participants to voice their opinions and provide potentially useful insight on technical issues to prepare a more solid report.

According to the ministry, the expressway is planned to be 25.5m wide with two lanes in each direction. The road will start from the capital’s third ring road and pass through Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces, ending at Bavet town on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border.

Svay Rieng provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith told The Post that the expressway would be an economic boon for the province, and ease the usually heavy traffic at the Bavet border checkpoint.

Pharith, who doubles as a Svay Rieng Provincial Administration spokesman, said the province’s roads were historically very narrow, leading to notorious levels of traffic congestion for worker transport and freight vehicles.

This, however, has been greatly reduced due to the construction of bypasses and road widenings arranged by the ministry, he said.

“A few years ago, before the spread of Covid-19, the road to Bavet was very congested because the area was largely urbanised, with a lot of factories and tonnes of freight forwarders moving a variety of merchandise,” Pharith said.

But with many roads widened and transportation service providers generally not as busy since the onset of Covid-19, the level of traffic congestion has been lowered considerably, he said.

Nonetheless, Pharith expects construction to begin soon on the Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway, which he sees as a major asset to boost the province’s economic potential and make travel easier.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy underlined that road infrastructure is crucial for the transport sector. He claimed that more expressways will translate into a shot in the arm for cross-border trade, noting that the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway was nearing completion.

Chanthy said that the private transport sector welcomes the new expressway, and that he hopes a groundbreaking to be announced soon after the ministry has conducted its in-depth studies with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“The Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway will make things easier that in the past when goods could by and large only be transported to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border via National Road 1,” he said.

An earlier study by JICA shows that the main 126.2km portion of the expressway – excluding a 9km segment of the capital’s third ring road often added to the total length – is set to be divided into three types of road structures: viaduct (12.0km), multiple box culvert (28.4km) and embankment (85.8km).

Seven interchanges are planned for the expressway, as are six rest stops and a new border control facility.