The Government, through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, has officially signed a public-private partnership agreement with a private company for the construction of a Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project that will connect the capital to Svay Rieng province. The budget for the project is estimated at $1.4 billion.

The signing ceremony was held on May 18, under the chairmanship of public works and transport minister Sun Chanthol and Zhou Yong, representative of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).

Chanthol explained that the four-lane expressway would stretch for approximately 135km.

It will require construction of a bridge across the Mekong River in Dei Ith commune. The bridge will link the capital’s third ring road to Kandal province’s Lvea Em district. The 3.7km bridge will be built at a cost of $230, which will come from the state budget.

"The release of state funds for the construction of the bridge is in line with the wishes of Prime Minister Hun Sen. If the bridge was built by the CRBC company, tolls would be charged for its use, and he did not want to see that happen,” he said.

“We signed a public-private partnership agreement so the work was clearly divided between us,” he added.

He concluded that Hun Sen was expected to officiate over a June 7 ground breaking. The project is expected to be completed in four years, to coincide with the completion of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh-Bavet Expressway, which it will link to.

Yong thanked the Cambodian government, as well as the public works ministry, for expressing their confidence in the company’s ability to deliver the expressway.

“We promise to ensure that the quality of construction matches that of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which e previously completed. This will be our second expressway project in Cambodia, and we will employ the most up to date technology we have in order to ensure that the project is completed on time, and to the complete satisfaction of the people of Cambodia,” he said.

Economic and financial analyst Ngeth Chou expressed his support for the government's participation, as it will reduce people’s travel costs.

“Naturally, if the company had to spend more to build the bridge, they would have to increase the cost of using the expressway,” he said.

He believed that this kind of infrastructure investment benefited the people as a whole, not just the economy, so it was important to make it happen.

In addition, he noted that the expressway will play a major role in connecting China to Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.