Cambodia Eyes Water Transport Body

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In a bid to address the high cost of logistics in the country, Cambodia plans to apply for membership at the Japanese branch of the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (Pianc-Japan), a move that would allow the country to gain expertise in infrastructure development and the management of ports and waterways.

Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the only deep-sea port in Cambodia. Realestate.com.kh

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol expressed interest in joining the international water transport association during a meeting with delegates from Pianc on Monday.

“Joining Pianc-Japan can help us develop and efficiently manage domestic waterway infrastructure,” the minister said. “It will particularly help us with the management of the ports in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.”

Pianc-Japan is the Japanese branch of the international organisation Pianc, which promotes the maintenance and development of waterborne transport infrastructure.

The organisation brings together the best international experts on technical, economic and environmental issues pertaining to waterborne transport infrastructures. Members include national governments and public authorities, corporations and interested individuals.

Va Simsorya, ministry spokesman, told Khmer Times yesterday that the benefits of joining the organisation will be manifold.

“First of all, it will allow other member countries to know more about Cambodia. At the same time, we can gain expertise on managing our ports and waterways to international standards,” he said.

Generally speaking, the cost of logistics in the kingdom is higher than in fellow Asean member countries, a factor that puts upward pressure on production costs and reduces the kingdom’s competitiveness.

Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, said there are a number of issues hampering the efficient transportation of cargo in the kingdom.

He mentioned a lack of infrastructure connecting production areas to the country’s ports, and added that existing roads are generally too small for the fluid traffic of cargo trucks.

“The cost of logistics is high because there is only one-way trade. Trucks deliver cargo to the ports but come back empty.

“Consider also unofficial fees, which is probably the biggest issue facing providers of transportation services.

“Likewise, the system designed to administer import and export data is not synchorised across all relevant ministries. The government is taking care of it, but we don’t know how fast the issue will be resolved.”

In November, the government approved the establishment of the National Council of Logistics, a body envisioned to address the high cost of logistics in the country.

Likewise, with technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank, the ministry will soon finish a master plan for the country’s logistics sector.

Next month, a new waterway passenger system, known colloquially as water taxis, is scheduled to begin operations in Phnom Penh, using the rivers Tonle Sap, Bassac and Mekong. It will consist of 15 stations or docks located across the capital, from Prek Phnov in the north to Takhmao city and Kean Svay district in Kandal province.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.