One-Year Anniversary of the Opening of Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway Celebrated by China and Cambodia

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INNEWS-On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the operation and opening of the Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville Expressway, the Cambodian government and Chinese enterprises jointly held a grand celebration on November 7, 2023.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet senior representative, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and First Vice Chairman of the Cambodian Development Council Sun Chanthol, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian, Economic and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia Zhong Jie, Cambodian Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol, Assistant General Manager and General Manager of the Cambodian Office of China Road and Bridge Corporation, and Chairman of Cambodia Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway Co., Ltd. Zhou Yong attended the celebration. More than 2,000 representatives from businesses and local residents participated in the event.

Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol emphasized in his speech that since the safe and smooth operation of the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway for one year, it has served over 5 million trips for Cambodian people. Its safe and convenient features have fundamentally changed the way people travel, significantly improved the regional road network’s capacity, and effectively promoted Cambodia’s social and economic development. 

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian pointed out in his speech that the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway, as an exemplar of the China-Cambodia joint “Belt and Road Initiative,” plays an important role in implementing Cambodia’s “Five Pillars” strategy, constructing the China-Cambodia “Diamond Hexagon” cooperation framework, and advancing the process of building a new era of China-Cambodia community with a shared future.

During the celebration, Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol presented a congratulatory letter from Prime Minister Hun Manet on behalf of the Cambodian government to Zhou Yong, Chairman of Cambodia Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway Co., Ltd. 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet personally congratulated the first anniversary of the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway’s opening, stating that it has brought satisfaction and joy to the entire Cambodian population. Hun Manet mentioned that the completion and opening of the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway has reduced the travel time from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville from 5 hours to less than 2 hours, providing a more convenient and safe means of transportation for the people. This initiative has also received recognition and approval from the Cambodian government. 

Hun Manet highlighted the crucial role played by the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway as a key project for Cambodia’s participation in the “Belt and Road Initiative” proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. He stated that Cambodia has greatly benefited from this initiative, which connects Asia and Europe, promotes political, infrastructure, economic, and trade cooperation between the two continents, and fosters closer ties between the people of Asia and Europe. The Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway, built by Chinese companies, highlights the tangible benefits Cambodia has gained from the “Belt and Road Initiative” and adds new content to the strong friendship between Cambodia and China.

Hun Manet praised China Road and Bridge Corporation for constructing a high-quality expressway and effectively managing its operation. He expressed his hope that China Road and Bridge Corporation will continue to build the second expressway, the Phnom Penh to Bavet Expressway, and achieve new successes in its investments in Cambodia.

In the year since the opening of the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway, the number of vehicles using it has reached nearly 5 million trips. From November 1, 2022, to October 31, 2023, there were 4,679,222 trips on the expressway. This clearly demonstrates the importance and value of this expressway for Cambodia’s social and economic development.

The “Cambodia Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway Co., Ltd. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report (2022-2023),” released during the celebration, is the first ESG report published by a Chinese company in Cambodia and the first ESG report ever published by a Cambodian enterprise. The report shows that Cambodia Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway Co., Ltd. adheres to the corporate vision of “Connecting Roads, Benefitting the World,” and focuses on the service goal of “making transportation more convenient and travel safer.” It earnestly understands and practices ESG principles, integrating them into the company’s development context, and remains committed to benefiting the local society and people.

In the past year, the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway has seen over 5.19 million vehicles, with a daily average of 13,000 vehicles and an average of about 17,000 vehicles on weekends and holidays. Through the development of data sharing platforms, one-stop service payment platforms, and automatic license plate recognition technology, the proportion of non-cash payments has far exceeded the level of domestic expressways during the same period, greatly enhancing road service levels. During construction and operation, the expressway has provided tens of thousands of employment opportunities for the local community, with a 90% localization rate during the operation period. It has successfully established Cambodia’s first professional expressway local operation team, continuously promoted technology transfer, and broadened the career development paths for local employees. The Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway has emphasized “joint consultation,” advocated “joint construction,” and committed to “shared benefits.” It has established a good cooperative relationship with local residents and stakeholders, actively supported community development projects, continuously provided tens of thousands of job opportunities for the local community, cared about employee rights and development needs, and effectively protected the surrounding ecosystem and natural resources, without any major safety or environmental impact incidents during construction and operation.

The Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway spans 187.05 kilometers across five administrative regions, reducing the travel time from the capital, Phnom Penh, to the major seaport city of Sihanoukville from 5 hours to less than 2 hours, which is of great significance for optimizing Cambodia’s road network structure, improving regional road network capacity, developing natural and tourism resources along the route, building an economic corridor, driving regional economic development, and improving the investment environment. The Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway was invested, constructed, and operated by China Road and Bridge Corporation in a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) model, with a total investment of $2.019 billion and a franchise period of 54 years, including a construction period of 4 years and an operation period of 50 years. 

On October 1, 2022, the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway completed its construction task eight months ahead of schedule and officially opened for operation, ushering Cambodia into the era of expressways. On November 9, 2022, former Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet and former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang jointly inaugurated the opening of the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway and the handover of livelihood assistance projects in Phnom Penh.

Both the leaders of the two Cambodian governments highly praised the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway. In February 2023, during his visit to China, former Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway is a source of pride for Cambodia, providing an opportunity for the country to transform. In October 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Many, who attended the third Belt and Road International Cooperation Summit Forum in China. Prime Minister Hun Many stated in an interview with CCTV that the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway benefits the Cambodian people, improves logistics, promotes economic growth, and facilitates trade facilitation.

The successful experience of the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville Expressway in terms of investment, construction, and operation will continue to support the smooth implementation of the Phnom Penh to Bavet and Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to Poipet Expressways, making a continuous and important contribution to Cambodia’s economic growth.