Cambodia: PP-Bavet Expressway clauses reviewed

Senior officials of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) on Wednesday met the delegation of the developer of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) to review terms and conditions before they reach the stage of signing a deal for the development of Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project, according to a release by MPWT.

The agreement review meeting was led by MPWT Minister Sun Chanthol and attended by a delegation led by Vongsey Vissoth, Secretary of State of MEF, and senior officers CRBC at MPWT to review some clauses stipulated in the draft of the concessional agreement between the Cambodian government’s representative and the developer of the second expressway project.

“The meeting was organised to review and discuss the comprehensiveness of the concessional agreement for the project that can be accepted by all related parties to implement smoothly with high quality and effectiveness in the future, especially to reach signing as per schedule,” the release pointed out.

The concessional agreement for the development of the PP-Bavet Expressway project which is planned to be ground broken for construction in mid-2023 is expected to be signed after the framework agreement was signed on 10 November 2022 by Chanthol and Chen Zhong, Deputy General Manager of China Communications Construction Group Co Ltd (CCC)—the parent company of CRBC based in Beijing.

The framework agreement was signed during a ceremony attended by senior government officials from various relevant ministries and delegates of CCC at MPWT. Chanthol said PP-Bavet Expressway Project will be extremely significant not only for Cambodia but also for the region’s connectivity as a whole because the expressway—Highway Number 1 of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will link China through Myanmar to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“We’ve tried very hard. We did our best efforts to try to complete the public-private partnership contract ahead of the visit of the premier but we could not reach that finishing line. We are very close to reaching that finishing line … It is very good that we have an expressway that links various countries to improve or facilitate trade and investment,” Chanthol said, acing that Cambodia is in the centre of the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

Chanthol also said it is extremely important for both parties to reach the Public-Private Partnership Agreement (PPP) as soon as possible in another ceremony to be attended and witnessed by the leaders of the two countries — most likely during Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official visit to China in 2023 — to arrange groundbreaking sometime next year and to complete the construction by the end of 2026 or early 2027.

Nguyen Van Thang, Vietnamese Minister of Transport, informed Chanthol on Tuesday at MPWT that Vietnam’s expressway between Ho Chi Minh City and the Moc Bai border gate with Cambodia will be completed around the same time as the completion of the 138km PP-Bavet Expressway Project that costs about $1.63 billion.

“All we need to do is to agree on the connecting point… we need confirmation in writing from Vietnam to ensure that the connection is done at a proper location. I think that the project will move forward,” he said, adding, that the map indicates that the expressway from Ho Chi Minh City to Moc Bai through Vietnam’s National Route 22 is expected to be connected with the expressway from Bavet to Phnom Penh at length pole number 164.

The PP-Bavet Expressway Project would also include a 5 km bridge across the Mekong River — both bridge and road. “We need the confirmation in writing to let us know the specific location so that we can make a proper design or buy of land properly at the location of joint connection,” Chanthol added.

Chen, Deputy General Manager of CCC, said the PP-Bavet Expressway will become a driver of the social and economic developments for Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces, while it will improve the connectivity between Cambodia and Vietnam by facilitating the flow of people, goods and capital across the border significantly.