The government has revealed ambitious plans for a railway to be completed by April 2018 that will carry goods and passengers from the city to Phnom Penh International Airport.
Meanwhile, protesters already being affected by the construction of the railway, which they claim began two months ago in Por Senchey district’s Ka Kab commune, continue to claim they have been left in the dark about the project.
On Friday, Minister of Public Works and Transportation Sun Chanthol revealed the light train plans and the ambitious deadline for its completion.
Mr Chanthol said about 250 metres of the railway – which will be 1.5 kilometres long – is already under construction.
“Once operational, it’ll take 20 minutes to travel from within the city to the airport via the light train,” he said. “It will reduce traffic congestion in the city, particularly for people living around the airport, and tourists can use the service into Phnom Penh from the airport to avoid traffic jams.”
The train will be free of charge during its first month of operation, Mr Chanthol added.
The Royal Group has been tapped for the project and will manage the railway once it’s completed. Currently, the company is procuring four light trains from Mexico, which cost about $2 million each, according Mr Chanthol, who did not reveal the total cost of the project.
“The amount of investment on the light train railway is small because we are building only 1.5 kilometres,” he said.
Residents of Ka Kab commune, where the construction has already begun, said the government is not being forthcoming with worried locals, who fear evictions and ill affects to their heath during construction.
Meng Kruy, a representative of disgruntled residents, said locals want a public forum held about the project, which has already negatively affected their lives.
Last week, he and other locals protested and burned tyres to earn a sit down with local officials, but they want more information from the national level, he said.
“Talking about burning tyres to protest, we have done it many times, but there is still no national authority coming to explain so that the people can understand,” he said. “People want the involved parties to come to solve their problems directly.”
Housing Rights Task Force executive director Sia Phearum said most Ka Kab commune residents support the project, as he does, but officials directly involved in the development should visit locals as soon as possible.
“I think they should go there and disseminate information directly to the people,” he said. “Otherwise, there could be a crisis of protests.”