Cambodia sees a growing both inland and coastal waterways network

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia, a country blessed with many rivers and canals, has recently invested heavily in inland waterway transport infrastructure, despite the fact that the potential of this mode of transportation has remained undeveloped and untapped compared to neighboring countries.

Recent reports in the Handbook on Investment in Cambodia published, that the Mekong River System is the focus of inland waterways and port development. The total length of the nationwide inland waterways is around 1,750 km.

However, ships can only operate in 780 km of the inland waterways. Sources of shipping line connections to and from Cambodia are mostly from regional hubs, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, or Shanghai.

International shipping is mainly carried out at the two international autonomous ports: the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port which is the country's current largest deep-sea port; and the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port.

The construction of a $1.5 billion deep-sea port in Kampot began in 2022. The construction of the 180 km-long Funan Canal was just approved and will boost waterways by linking the Mekong River to the sea.

The cost of the canal is estimated at $1.7 billion. Cambodia has a total of 103 ports including 26 seaports, 77 riverports, 5 major domestic ports, and two international ports.

The announced plans to implement an online-only electronic data exchange system in Cambodia's ports in August 2022 to facilitate more efficient ship transport and transfer activity management.

The Port Electronic Data Information (EDI) system aims to modernize entry-exit controls in Cambodia with an online-only approach. Currently, all entry-exit procedures are manually processed, often causing significant delays. While shipping costs remain higher than in the region, there are massive plans to expand the Sihanoukville Port and create additional facilities.

Last month a large tourism port was inaugurated in Preah Sihanouk province to attract more visitors to its abundant natural attractions.

The official inauguration of the Sihanoukville Tourism port, capable of accommodating 20 cruise ships of various sizes simultaneously, was presided over by Minister of Tourism H.E. Thong Khon.

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