Phnom Penh Authority decides to run public buses

April 10th, 2014 , The Cambodia Herald

Phnom Penh City Hall decides to run public buses by itself after Chinese-owned Global withdrew​ itself due to internal issues.

Long Dimanche, spokesman for the City Hall, said that the Global withdrew itslef from the public bus service project after two-month trial from February 5th to April 4th, 2014. …

The Cambodia Herald News Staff

Firm plans more bus lines

March 26th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Chinese firm Global (Cambodia) Trade Development will launch several more city bus lines in Phnom Penh over the next 10 months, dramatically expanding what has so far been a successful experiment to introduce mass transit to the capital, the company and state media said yesterday.

Lin Andre, Global’s chief executive, said that a total of 118 new buses will be deployed to serve routes on the Street 271 ring road, Sisowath Quay, and Mao Tse Tung, Kampuchea Krom, Sothearos and Russian boulevards, among others.

Vong Sokheng

Chinese firm takes over bus service, no bid needed

March 5th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The Chinese-owned Global (Cambodia) Trade Development company takes over today as Phnom Penh’s new municipal bus operator, although City Hall said Tuesday that the company did not have to go through a bidding process to get the contract.

The creation of a permanent public bus system follows a successful one-month trial conducted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which saw 42,000 passengers boarding daily buses along a single route on Monivong Boulevard. …

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said that the municipal government should be more open when it comes to the procurement of public services.

“Public offers need to be made through a public process. The government should always go through a public and transparent process to ensure that the public and the government get the best possible deal,” he said. …

Simon Henderson and Sek Odom

Buses Attract 20,000 Passengers in Two Weeks

February 18th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

About 20,000 passengers have traveled on Phnom Penh’s limited city bus service since a month-long public transport experiment began two weeks ago, which bodes well for a citywide expansion of the service once the trial ends on March 4, City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said Monday.

This is the second time the city has tried out public buses, but they are proving more popular this time around than in 2001, when a two-month trial service was scrapped halfway through due to waning public demand.

“Two weeks into the public bus experiment, we are seeing on average 1,600 to 1,700 passengers per day, with some days predictably seeing more passengers than others,” Mr. Dimanche said. …

Sek Odom and Simon Henderson

Water authority eyes new station for 2017

February 18th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) announced the construction of a fifth water treatment station yesterday, saying that without an additional plant, the capital could face a severe clean-water shortage as soon as 2017.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, PPWSA deputy director Samreth Sovithchea told reporters that the capital’s current clean-water capacity will be around 460,000 cubic metres per day by 2016 – when a still-unfinished treatment station is completed – but by 2017, increases in demand will leave residents high and dry again. …

The proposed project will include a station with a capacity of 130,000 cubic metres per day, as well as a 700-kilometre expansion of the city’s pipe network, Sovithchea added, with the $50 million price tag paid by the government and donors. The price of water for consumers will not change, he continued. …

Sen David

Test Drive Begins for New City Bus Service

February 6th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Ten buses set off Wednesday morning along Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh on a month-long test-run to determine if the public is ready to jettison their motorbikes and luxury cars and hop on board mass transport.

This is the second attempt by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the municipal authorities to address traffic congestion by establishing a public bus service, following a two-month trial in 2001 that was terminated due to public indifference. …

At the start point, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatavong told the crowd of about 100 mostly local government officials, with a smattering of curious onlookers, that City Hall was determined to ensure the success of the city bus service this time around.

“If there is only a trial and the operation is then ended, it will have been meaningless,” he said, adding that the 36-stop trial route from the “Old Stadium” roundabout to Chbar Ampov across the Monivong Bridge is just one of five planned routes in the city.

“More than $300 million is lost annually due to traffic accidents in [Cambodia], which is devastating and a tragedy for our city…so I appeal to people to start changing their attitudes and support this project,” he said to launch the bus service. …

Hul Reaksmey and Simon Henderson

Survey seeks info on Cambodian business health

February 5th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

Starting later this month, 10,000 small and medium-sized businesses will be queried as part of a Japanese government-backed economic census intended to take a snapshot of activity across the private sector.

Beginning on February 23 and running through to March 31, Cambodia’s National Institute of Statistics (NIS) will conduct the survey with help from Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA), according to a joint agency statement released yesterday.

Respondents will be selected from 25 provinces, drawn from a much larger group of more than 500,000 businesses first interviewed in Cambodia’s landmark economic census in 2011. …

Eddie Morton

Long-Awaited Phnom Penh Bus Service Begins One-Month Trial

February 5th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

A fleet of 10 municipal buses was set to roll out early this morning, commencing a one-month public bus service trial along a single route on Monivong Boulevard.

If successful, the bus route will mark the first step in establishing a long-overdue public transit system to alleviate Phnom Penh’s increasing traffic congestion.

The daily service, which will cost passengers 1,500 riel (about $0.30) for a flat-rate single ticket, will run from 5:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. from the Chroy Changva “Old Stadium” roundabout to Chbar Ampov, stopping 36 times along the way.

The public bus is the brainchild of the Japanese International Co­operation Agency (JICA), which hopes it will be prove more popular this time around than in 2001, when JICA pulled the plug on a two-month trial service due to a lack of public interest. …

Chhorn Kna, a 41-year-old tuk-tuk driver whose usual parking spot had been replaced by the bus stop outside the French Embassy, said he was not overly concerned about losing customers to the buses.

“The fee is a little bit cheaper than a tuk-tuk, so I will have to wait and see, but I think passengers will get bored waiting, because it will take a long time to get to their destination.” …

Simon Henderson and Khuon Narim

Public Warned of Traffic Delays Due to Drainage

January 21st, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Phnom Penh Municipality has warned the public to expect prolonged traffic disturbances around O’Russei market in Prampi Makara district after construction began in the area Monday as part of the ongoing Japan-funded drainage project, a statement from City Hall said.

The public has been asked for their patience as sections of road in the vicinity of the busy market will be dug up over the next seven months to lay new drainage pipes—part of Phase 3 of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) $350-million rehabilitation of Phnom Penh’s antiquated drainage system. …

Residents of the city have grown accustomed over the past year to traffic jams and detours as a result of the project, while stretches of road ostensibly completed, such as Street 63, have been ripped up again and again as issues with newly laid pipes are corrected. …

Khuon Narim and Simon Henderson

Capital to launch trial bus route

December 4th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh commuters fed up with navigating the city’s increasingly busy streets will have a chance to test a new public bus service beginning in February.

Phnom Penh Municipality spokesman Long Dimanche yesterday confirmed a one-month trial of a bus service along a 7.5-kilometre route running from Monivong Boulevard to Chbar Ampov Market.

Dimanche said ticket prices were still being negotiated for the trial, which is set to run daily between 5.30am and 8.30pm. …

Hor Kimsay

‘Millions’ to be made off energy efficiency

November 27th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Against the backdrop of high electricity costs and energy imports, Cambodian businesses could save millions of dollars annually by implementing energy-efficient business practices, insiders said yesterday.

“It is clear that energy efficiency has multiple benefits, not only to the tourism sector but also other economic sectors in Cambodia in general,” Thong Khon, minister of tourism and chairman of the National Committee for Clean City Assessment, said during an Asian Development Bank (ADB) workshop on power saving at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Khon said that reducing energy imports will help improve the competitiveness of Cambodia “by reducing overall costs and increasing operational efficiencies”.

Cambodia imports oil from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and in the first 10 months of this year spent $1.2 billion on oil imports, data from the Ministry of Commerce show. …

Anne Renzenbrink

Botum Park dug up to extend city sewer

October 23rd, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

In the latest instalment of a project designed to revamp Phnom Penh’s drainage system, officials have begun work expanding a sediment chamber near the Royal Palace to Wat Botum.

Phase three of the ongoing $350 million drainage system project spearheaded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in collaboration with Phnom Penh City Hall began in early 2012 and is expected to be completed by April 2015, Long Dimanche, a City Hall spokesman, said. …

Phak Seangly

Japan provides emergency aid to Cambodia’s flood victims

October 21st, 2013 , The Southeast Asia Weekly

in response to the flood disaster in Cambodia, the Government of Japan on Monday decided to provide emergency relief goods such as generator, water purifiers etc worth 32 million yen (approximately 320,000 US dollars) to the Kingdom of Cambodia through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in response to the disastrous floods caused by the unprecedented heavy rain. …

The Southeast Asia Weekly News Staff

Fertilizer Scam Referred to Anti-Corruption Unit

September 20th, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

The case of a Battambang provincial government official ac­cused of embezzling some $200,000 in state funds has been referred to the Anti-Corruption Unit in Phnom Penh, provincial officials said Thursday.

Battambang Provincial Court deputy prosecutor Long Hokmeng said a two-week investigation into the case brought against Seng Ratanak, deputy bureau chief of Battambang’s department of agriculture, had turned up signs of corruption. …

After being arrested on September 2, Mr. Ratanak confessed to police that he had sold thousands of tons of fertilizer—donated by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA)—to poor farmers at inflated prices and kept the majority of the proceeds, which were intended for the Ministry of Agriculture. …

JICA, the Japanese government’s international aid arm, has opened its own investigation into the case after learning that the proceeds from 4,650 tons of fertilizer donated under a scheme aimed at increasing food production among poor farmers had been misappropriated by a government official.

Further, JICA’s head of public relations, Yukiko Kitazawa, said on September 9 that future support of the project would depend on improvements made to the government’s monitoring of such schemes. …

Eang Mengleng and Matt Blomberg

Further JICA Support Hinges On Fertilizer Scandal

September 11th, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has said that its future support of agricultural development in Cambodia depends on the outcome of an investigation into a provincial official accused of embezzling funds from JICA-donated fertilizer.

The accused, deputy bureau chief of Battambang’s department of agriculture Seng Ratanak, has implicated two of his superiors in the scam, which saw some $200,000 misappropriated and has caused JICA to question its operations in Cambodia’s agricultural sector.

“Our future support of 2KR [a grant aid scheme aimed at increasing food production in Cambodia] would depend on how much the current monitoring system is improved,” said Yukiko Kitazawa, head of public relations for JICA, when asked by email how the scam could effect Japanese involvement in such projects.

“We have already met officials in charge in the Ministry [of Agriculture] and asked them to send us a written report to recount all the facts and causes as well as to describe their measures to prevent such misconduct from happening,” she said. …

[Battambang provincial agriculture department director] Mr. [Chhim] Vicheara said Tuesday that departmental changes will be made to appease JICA and ensure there is no repeat of the fertilizer scam.

“We have created a committee, including members of the Ministry of Agriculture, to investigate,” he [Chhim Vicheara] said. …

Matt Blomberg and Eang Mengleng

Four More Named in Fertilizer Embezzlement Scandal

September 9th, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

An official from Battambang province’s department of agriculture who was charged last Monday with embezzling $200,000 from the illegal sale of fertilizer donated to the poor by Japan has implicated four other officials in the case, including the son of senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, a court official said Sunday.

Seng Ratanak, 38, deputy bureau chief of the provincial department of agriculture, is alleged to have profited from the sale of 500 tons of chemical fertilizer donated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and intended to be sold at a discount to poor local farmers.

Mr. Ratanak confessed that he had sold the fertilizer at an inflated price and taken 800 million riel, or about $200,000 for himself, sending only 200 million riel, or about $50,000 to the Ministry of Commerce.

He also alleged that four other government officials had shared in the spoils of the fertilizer sale, a court official said. …

Provincial Agriculture department director Chhim Vicheara and Mr. Yeap’s son, Battambang deputy provincial governor Cheam Chansorphorn were among those implicated in the affair by the suspect, the deputy prosecutor said.

Contacted Sunday, Mr. Vicheara denied the allegations against him. …

Mr. Chansorphorn also denied any wrongdoing and claimed it was he who had informed police after becoming aware the suspect was pocketing money from selling the fertilizer. …

Mean Lay, Battambang provincial minor crimes police bureau chief, said Sunday that it was likely Mr. Ratanak had well-placed accomplices due to the nature of the crime and the amount of money involved, but as yet he had not heard of any other suspects being named in the case. …

Eang Mengleng

New Project Aims to Help Small Businesses in Cambodia

September 3rd, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

A new project by the government and Japan’s aid agency seeks to assist small companies in Cam­bodia that are in need of specialist advice in order to develop and keep up with competitors in neighboring Asean countries.

The aim of the two-year program, called “Strategic Strengthening of Small and Medium Enter­prise (SME) Support System,” is to provide free guidance to 10 selected small businesses that are facing issues to help them in­crease productivity, improve management, foster innovation and encourage cooperation between other businesses. …

According to Mr. Ishida, about 90 percent of businesses in Cam­bo­dia are small or even micro en­terprises and face a variety of constraints from low productivity to poor business administration.

“In 2015, the Asean community is heading our way and the big question is how can we fit ourselves in,” said Meng Saktheara, director-general of the Ministry of Industry’s department of industry, referring to the 2015 target set by the Asean block for creating a single regional economic market. …

He added that while Cambodia had about 500,000 SMEs, Thailand, for example, has 2.9 million and has instituted policies to en­courage at least 50,000 more every year. He said it was the responsibility of the Cambodian government to create a favorable atmosphere by creating tax incentives and enforcing international standards of production. …

Hak Sovanna, director of LSG Investment and an adviser to Senate President Chea Sim, said he attended the seminar to discover new ways to improve his agricultural business.

“Kampot province recently approved my private company to start an irrigation business in three districts, Kompong Trach, Ban­teay Meas, Angkor Chay and we are now rebuilding canals in those districts to channel water for cultivating the land, after which we will sell fertilizer to farmers and collect money once they harvest their crops,” Mr. Sovanna said. …

Simon Henderson and Aun Pheap

‘Master Plan’ Drawn for Phnom Penh Public Transport System

July 1st, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) met with Phnom Penh municipal authorities last month to present the first stage of a “master plan” for the construction of a much-needed public transport system for the capital.

Masato Koto, chief of mission for JICA’s transportation planning group in Phnom Penh, said he met with municipal governor Pa Socheat Vong on June 21 to present the results of a preliminary study, conducted over the past year, for a new transportation network. …

For years, JICA, the international development arm of the Japanese Government, has been leading efforts to interconnect Phnom Penh with a mass transit system, though successive plans have proved short-lived—such as the ill-fated bus service that lasted for only a few weeks in 2001, when JICA brought in retired buses from Osaka but failed to persuade the public to use them.

But with the growing number of unwieldy SUVs clogging up the city’s narrow roads, and with traffic being pushed into bottle-necks on main routes, it seems that concrete solutions are again back on the agenda.

Even an improbable-sounding sky train is back on the drawing board. …

JICA’s study seeks to find the best long-term solutions for reducing traffic jams and accidents in the gridlocked capital, and once the study is finished, the municipal government will then implement the project with funds from the municipal budget, or if it cannot afford it, seek development partners, Mr. Sophan said.

Aun Pheap and Simon Henderson

Gov’t revenues rise 11 pct

June 21st, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Government revenues totalled more than $700 million over the first four months of the year, an 11 per cent year-on-year increase, data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) show.

In total, the revenue made by the General Department of Taxation (GDT) rose by about 30 per cent while revenue from the General Department Customs and Excise (GDCE) rose slightly, by about four per cent. Revenue from cities and provinces went up by 33.5 per cent. …

Stephen Higgins, former CEO of ANZ Royal Bank said that corruption is one among  other factors—“capacity and capability in revenue raising areas is important. Improving and streamlining customs would make a big difference, and is something that most businesses would want to see.”

The opposition party, however, claims the government loses between $400 million to $500 million due to corruption by officials.

“The improvement of taxation is not an easy job,” Suzuki said. “Many developing countries, not only Cambodia, have been tackling this issue. I hope [that] both the government and donors will continue their efforts on this issue for Cambodia.”

At the same time, government’s expense budget [excluding the expenses for other projects that are not paid from the national treasury] is worth $443 million, a decrease of 5.8 per cent compared to the same period last year.

May Kunmakara