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Expressway to Link Phnom Penh to Vietnam's 'Rice Bowl'

By: Nguon Sovan The Mekong Times Posted: February-28-2008 in
Nguon Sovan The Mekong Times

A six-lane expressway linking Phnom Penh with the center of Vietnam's Mekong Delta "rice bowl" is in the wind.

Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities met Feb 26 to discuss the proposed highway from Phnom Penh to Can Tho city, said Kem Borey, director of the Transport Ministry's Road Infrastructure Department yesterday. Can Tho - with a population of over a million - is the thriving capital of Vietnam's fertile Mekong Delta, about 170 km southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

"Our Vietnamese counterparts have said that two US companies - from Los Angeles and San Francisco - intend to build the 230 km highway," said Kem Borey. "It's estimated it will cost US$20 million per kilometer [US$4.6 billion in total]." He said the road will be BOT (Build-Operate- Transfer), which means the company will receive toll fees from drivers who use the road, until they hand it over to the two governments after 30 years of use.

Kem Borey said the highway will run from Can Tho, through An Giang province before the final stretch of approximately 120 km from the border to Phnom Penh. He added that the final route of this last stretch has not been finalized but would either follow National Road 2 through Takeo province, National Road 21 through Takeo province, or comprise a new road traversing Kampot province.

The two sides are preparing reports and will meet in mid-March with the aim of making a memorandum of understanding, Kem Boray said, adding that construction should be completed by 2015. The six-lane road will have a width of 35 meters, with two more lanes likely to be added in a later phase.

He said that, because the Can Tho-Phnom Penh expressway will ultimately link Vietnam's "rice bowl" to Bangkok via Phnom Penh, it will promote socio-economic development in the whole Mekong delta region, as well as in the two cities.

Nguon Sovan is a reporter for the Mekong Times

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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