Insiders rejoice as expressway project puts Bavet on fast lane

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The 135km road will begin in Phnom Penh and end at the Bavet-Moc Bai Border Gate. Photo supplied

A technical feasibility study of the Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project is progressing smoothly, setting high hopes among real estate insiders that the new route would underpin the potential of Bavet town’s burgeoning real estate market.

The update was revealed at a meeting between representatives of Beijing-based China Railway International Group Co Ltd, which is conducting the study, and the leadership of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Ministry secretary of state So Victor, who chaired the meeting, noted that the study highlighted “three road options” that the ministry and government must thoroughly assess.

The company’s financial analysis report that is due in mid-October will be used as a basis for the decision, he said without elaborating further.

Real estate investment agency Khmer Foundation Appraisals Co Ltd president and CEO Noun Rithy told The Post on Wednesday that the high-speed road would not only improve the transport sector, but also the real estate market, especially in Bavet town.

Bavet is Svay Rieng province’s number two urban centre and shares a border with Vietnam’s Tay Ninh and Long An provinces.

It comprises five communes – Bati, Bavet, Chrak M’tes, Prasat, Prey Angkunh – that are further divided into 35 administrative villages, and has emerged as a centre for development projects such as casinos, hotels, restaurants and special economic zones.

Rithy said the infrastructure system is closely tied to the real estate market. More roads translate to more traffic and a greater number of people living and doing business along them.

He said: “The additional construction of new roads, especially highways, augurs well for the real estate sector, especially in Bavet, which could become an important hub between Cambodia and Vietnam.”

He said real estate currently sells for under $1,000 per sqm at Bavet’s prime locations and for $5 in remote agricultural areas.

Meanwhile, Global Real Estate Association president Sam Soknoeun claimed that the expressway would bring the momentum of the town’s real estate on par with Sihanoukville’s today.

“Given that Bavet is at the terminus of the road, its real estate market is set to quickly balloon,” he said.

He cautioned, however, that everything hinges on government policy centred on wooing more investors to investment areas.

In a bid to speed up construction of the expressway, Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 15 set up a 17-member inter-ministerial committee to oversee the project, with transport minister Sun Chanthol as head.

A prior feasibility study conducted by the Japanese government’s overseas aid body Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said the road would be 135km long, spanning Kandal, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces, and ending at the Bavet-Moc Bai Border Gate.

With a projected cost of more than $2 billion, Jica deemed the project “too expensive”.