Sihanoukville is the main deep-sea port of Cambodia. The Port of Sihanoukville, situated in the Bay of Kompong Som, is the principal and only deep-water maritime port of Cambodia. Kompong Som’s natural advantages include deep waterinshoreand a degree of natural protection from storms provided by a string of islands across the mouth of the bay. The port was built in 1959 with a total capacity of 1.2 million encompassing the old French-built wharf and adjacent new facilities. The capacity of Sihanoukville port, in its present condition, is estimated at about 950,000 tones per year, excluding POL which has separate facilities. This is about twice its present traffic. The port can accommodate ships of 10,000-15,000 tons deadweight (DWT).
The main access to the port is via a 3 km fairway channel, marked by buoys and leading lights for daylight navigation only. Due to rocky outcrops in the channel, the entrance to the port is restricted to vessels with a draft of less than 8.0-8.5 m. In practice boats of up to about 10,000 DWT can use the port. The port is located 540 nautical miles (1000km) from Singapore.
On the land side, the port is served by National Highway No. 4 (NH4, 240km to Phnom Penh), the main link between Phnom Penh and the coast, and the “New” railway line, completed in 1969, which takes a more southerly route via Kampot. The rail distance to Phnom Penh is 263km. The railway is in poor condition and handled only some 15% of the port traffic in 1993. Aid from the United States is earmarked for an immediate project to resurface the entire length of NH4 as well as to rebuild several bridges between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Roads within Sihanoukville municipality itself are all hard surfaced, albeit of somewhat lesser quality and poorer condition than NH4.
As part of its program to upgrade transport infrastructure in Cambodia, the Asian Development Bank is funding some modest improvements at the port. Immediate investments include the following: new forklift truck for container movement; repair old jetty; replace fenders; replace navigating aids and allow for night navigation; improve container storage yard; and install area lighting to permit night working. There are also reports that French assistance may finance a quayside container crane. (Currently, in the absence of a dedicated crane, the port claims to be able to move 200 containers per 24 hours).
Several warehouses are available providing a total storage area of approximately 6,000 square meters. The two wharfs have a total of five warehouses, one of which is being let out to an oil exploration company. The warehouses have been under-utilized in recent years because of their poor condition, particularly their leaky roofs. Warehouses 1, 2 and 4 are now being repaired under the SRA Project. They have a combined capacity of about 36,000 cube meters. Warehouse 3 was repaired earlier with domestic funds. Container storage and handling is also available. The container yard is 50,000 square meters in area. Regular and direct shipping links with Singapore and Bangkok are in place, with Cambodian-flag shipping (Camtran Ship) being the dominant carrier. In 1993, 15,000 TEU’s (20 food equivalents) passed through Sihanoukville Port. An estimated 80 percent of the containers had origin/destination in Singapore. Behind the warehouses fronting the new wharf, there are railway platforms and tracks as well as a container parking area of some 17,600 square meters. The container area is now being resurfaced under SRAP. Both wharves are also rail-connected.