Phnom Penh depends on access via the Mekong through the delta area of Vietnam. The Phnom Penh port is the country’s traditional river port, accessible to vessels from the South China Sea through Vietnam. Phnom Penh port is located in the city
(Tonle Sap river), some 3-4km from its junction with the Mekong. It is some 330 km from the mouth of the Mekong of which about 100 km is in Cambodia and the rest in Vietnam. The distance from Singapore is about 1450km. Vessels of up to 2,000 DWT can use the route without difficulty, and 5,000 DWT boats can pass the entrance to the Mekong (the ‘Main bottleneck) on favorable tides. Regular dredging is necessary at three points in Cambodia for the 5,000 DWT vessels to reach Phnom Penh. The port serves up to 150 ships per year, including 3 Singapore-based cargo vessels which take 10-12 days for the return voyage.
The main-cargo port consists of two sites, generally called Port No. 1 and Port No. 2:
Port No. 1 (the main port) consists of a 184-m long pier built in reinforced concrete, plus three pontoons for sea-going vessels. There are two berths, known as Berths 4 and 5, which can accommodate ships up to 2,000 DWT and 4,000 DWT, respectively. Some 540m of domestic pontoon capacity is available for river ships and barges of up to 100m or 1,800-2,000 tons. The pontoons are served by lighters and junks. There are other berths available for small craft. There are 12 depots of 2,700 sq m and 5,910 tons storage capacity within some 180 m of the berths, plus open storage of some 4,300 sq. m. There is another warehouse complex at Kilomet 6 (Phnom Penh) having 15 sheds with a total capacity of 70,000 tons and 8 sheds of nearly 4,000 tons. Although actual crane capacity is not dear, there are 12 cranes- i.e. two 25-ton, four 16-ton, and six 6.5-ton cranes.
Port No. 2, about 1km south of the main area, consists of two 45 m by 10 m steel pontoons. Due to the long and narrow bridges and the seasonal variation in water levels, these two berths can not be reached by equipment. The capacity of the main port (No. 1) has been estimated at about 150,000 tons per year, a figure already exceeded. This port is now to be rebuilt with the aid of a Japanese grant. The improvements are expected to increase the capacity to some 566,000 tons per year. As an interim measure, Port No. 2 will be rehabilitated under a World Bank credit. When the improvements to Port No. 1 are completed, Port No. 2 could perhaps revert to domestic use (up to 1991, Port No. 2 was for domestic use only).