Development in the Capital Fuels Traffic Woes

As development in Phnom Penh grows, so does the city’s traffic flow, causing heavy congestion on its roads. Kiripost spoke to three residents about their commutes into the capital
Traffic on a street in central Phnom Penh on Sept 5, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Traffic on a street in central Phnom Penh on Sept 5, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa

As a rapidly developing country, it comes as no surprise that the Cambodian capital is expanding at speed, with construction growing in terms of both buildings and roads. However, this fast-paced development has come coupled with a rise in traffic on Phnom Penh’s roads.

Urban development typically attracts more people to cities, where employment opportunities are greater than those in rural areas. But growing infrastructure and a rising population in the capital is having a significant impact on road congestion, further fuelling driver frustration.

Kiripost interviewed three residents regarding their perception towards traffic in Phnom Penh; and they gave similar opinions.

Uon Dy, a 42-year-old welder who lives in Kamboul district of Phnom Penh, told Kripost that it usually takes him between one and two hours to get to and from work in Khan Chamkamorn. He said enforcement can be a challenge for drivers who disobey traffic laws.

“When traffic congestion disrupts people's commutes, it causes them to be late for work and even receive complaints from their managers; that's the consequence,” Dy said.

To reduce traffic jams in Phnom Penh, he urged local authorities to intervene by inspecting the traffic capacity of roads and lanes, and improving traffic flow in congested areas if they were able to be used. He believes this would make people's commutes easier and less complicated.

Similarly, Tomdoeun Thong Pichra​, a first year student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, majoring in Economics, said Phnom Penh is frequently congested with traffic, a common occurrence caused​ by road users being disorderly.

However, she noted that it does not always last the entire day. Instead during the “rush hours” when people make their way to and from work.

People cross a ferry in Phnom Penh, September 5, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa
People cross a ferry in Phnom Penh, September 5, 2023. Kiripost/Siv Channa

“For me, the congestion period is mostly in the morning at 7am to 8am and in the evening around 4pm to 5pm due to this being a time that everyone goes to work and returns home at the same time,” she said.

“Drivers driving in the opposite direction of the traffic flow, coupled with road construction, are contributing to the problem of traffic jams.”

Pichra believes that the government has an obligation to improve traffic flow in crowded cities by more effectively managing traffic and accelerating the pace of roadway construction. This would ensure better public services to improve the quality of life for residents and workers.

“I used to cross the Chbar Ampov Bridge when there was no ferry. Now, the bridge is too congested, so I have switched to taking the ferry,” Pav Hun, a construction worker in Khan Chamkamorn, told Kiripost in an interview on the Akrey Ksat ferry.

Hun's residency in Khsach Kandal District requires him to travel from one side of the Mekong River to the other for work. He noted that completion of Kok Norea Bridge will ease congestion in and out of the city.

“We are just waiting for over 80 days for this (Koh Norea flyover) to open and traffic jams will be greatly reduced,” Hun said.

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