The Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the operators of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway are in discussions to improve the flow of traffic onto and off of the highway. They aim to reduce the congestion associated with accessing the road, which has seen a decrease in traffic.
On November 16, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol met with China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) executive director Zhou Yang and Mo Kun, executive director of Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd – a Phnom Penh-based subsidiary of CRBC that constructed the expressway – to discuss the possibilities of improving the entry process.
The participants were able to ascertain that the congestion appeared to be due to the majority of vehicles paying in cash, which led to delays during periods of high traffic, especially festivals and holidays.
They discussed the challenges and agreed that the ideal solution was through the use of DIP technology, which would allow drivers to top up an account linked to their vehicle’s licence plates before entering the expressway. The new scheme was piloted on November 14.
Chanthol said the DIP system is an initiative designed to ensure that the company's business was more transparent in managing services and recording revenue for tax payment to the government.
“The system will also ensure safer travel, reduce traffic accidents and gain faster access to the road for drivers who sign up to it. This in turn will reduce long waiting times which lead to congestion,” he added.
Chanthol instructed the company to ensure their staffers are well trained so they could work as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
The DIP system also allowed a faster exit at the end of each journey. As the system is pre-paid, drivers would simply have the cost of the toll deducted from their account as they drove past the final booths.
The ministry’s Department of Information Technology and Public Relations – in collaboration with the expressway operators – launched the pre-pay programme, which is accessed via the banking apps or at the counter of the ministry’s partner banks.
As of November 16, five institutions had launched a mobile banking option to top up the balance of a licence plate: Chip Mong, ACLEDA, ABA, Wing and Vattanac.
“More banks will be added in the near future,” said Yang.
The expressway has charged tolls since November 1, with payments charged according to the size of a vehicle and the distance it travels. An average family sedan will pay about $12 to travel the length of the 187.05km expressway, which runs through Kandal, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces.
The expressway has reduced the amount of traffic on National Road 4 by almost half, said Kampong Speu governor Vei Samnang. It also reduces travel time to just around two hours, as opposed to four on National Road 4 previously.
“People are using the expressway more often. Even though they must pay tolls, it reduces their travel time by more than half. Most of the traffic on National Road 4 now consists of local people who live near the road. Taxis and heavy trucks are more likely to use the expressway,” he said.
Samnang claimed that after the expressway was launched, some vendors along National Road 4 had seen a downturn in customers as well, but this was not a major issue.
“The benefits of the expressway outweigh its impact on a few shopkeepers. There are still people using National Road 4, and tourists did not stop that often anyway,” he said.