Final checks ahead of Saturday’s Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway opening have found residents cutting barbed wire fencing so they can graze cows by the road and sell food to motorists, the Transport Ministry said.
The $2-billion, 190-km expressway, under construction since March 2019, is due to open Saturday with the first month toll-free.
However, Pal Chandara, spokesperson for the Transport Ministry, said on Thursday that some residents had been cutting the fencing set up to prevent animals from wandering into the expressway area.
He would not say in how many places the fence had been cut, but said the residents had several reasons for doing so.
Some wanted to be able to walk across the expressway in places where an underpass was far away, while others wanted to graze cows and buffaloes by the road. Others wanted to sell food on the roadside, Chandara said.
“They are not supposed to cross the road. It’s an expressway. So the cars can’t slow down,” he said. “We have pointed out crossings for them. It’s a bit far from their home and they want a quicker way to cross the road.”
Chandara said residents had been educated about the dangers. The Transport Ministry has said people could face legal action if the transgressions continue.
Roadside vendors are a common sight across Cambodia’s highways, but the new tollway is intended to speed up travel along a busy freight route from the capital to the port city of Sihanoukville.