The groundbreaking ceremony has taken place for the for the 190-kilometre expressway which will run from Phnom Penh to the deep-sea port of Preah Sihanouk.
China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is investing around US$2 billion in the four-year project. The scheme is supported by debt from Chinese development banks and is scheduled for opening to traffic around March 2023.
At the ceremony, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the expressway would boost the economic development of Cambodia. Chinese vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou also attended the event.
The expressway is being built on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, with tolls levied on road users based on the size and type of vehicle.
"This expressway is very important to connect the country's first economic pole, Phnom Penh, to the second economic pole, Sihanoukville," Hun Sen says, as quoted by Xinhua. It will become an important strategic road, increase logistics efficiency in the country, and reduce the time and cost of moving goods, he adds.
Further to these aspirations, the expressway is expected to cut in half the time required to travel between the two destinations, which presently takes about five hours.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen said China's progress had not only given direct benefits to the Chinese people, but also provided advantages to other developing countries, especially those along the Belt and Road initiative. China has so far built more than 3,000 kilometres of roads and eight large bridges in Cambodia.
Cambodian minister of public works and transport, Sun Chanthol, said the expressway would connect Phnom Penh's Pursenchey district to the southwestern coastal province of Preah Sihanouk through Kandal, Kampong Speu, and Koh Kong provinces.
The super highway should reduce volumes of traffic emanating from National Road No. 4, which is the busiest road connecting Phnom Penh to the deep-sea port province of Preah Sihanouk. The two-lane highway will have a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour.
CRBC's chairman Lu Shan said the project was an example of the alignment between China's Belt Road and Cambodia's Rectangular Strategy.