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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ADB-funded road dispute goes to Appeal Court

ADB-funded road dispute goes to Appeal Court

The legal dispute over the $11 million Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded road project

in Kratie will go to the Phnom Penh Appeal Court after the provincial court prosecutor

ruled he would no longer investigate the case.

"I have decided it is not a criminal case," said Penh Vibol, prosecutor

at Kratie court, explaining his reasons behind downgrading the case to a civil case.

"I will not take any action, and will allow East Toyo to appeal. The road construction

by China Jilin is [again] underway."

China Jilin signed a contract two years ago with the Ministry of Public Works and

Transport (MPWT) to build an 83-kilometer-long road in Kratie. The company then sub-contracted

most of the work to East Toyo Construction, a South Korean engineering firm. That

deal was done without the knowledge of the ministry.

East Toyo stopped work on the project after it uncovered two sets of building specifications,

and suspected China Jilin had faked one. East Toyo pulled out of the deal and sued

China Jilin for $1 million for compensation of labor costs, transport and rental

of construction equipment.

East Toyo's lawyer, David Chanaiwa, was unhappy at the prosecutor's move.

"This is a criminal case," he said. "We will continue to pursue it,

as it should not end in this way. To be honest I think the prosecutor is afraid of

the government."

Prosecutor Vibol said he had not yet been able to ascertain which specification was

genuine.

"The MPWT has not replied to my questions on which one is real," he said.

Chhin Kong Hean, director-general of the MPWT, said the road is now being built to

the original specifications. Work was slow, though, with only 30 percent expected

to be complete by December 2003.

"We are pushing China Jilin to add more labor and more machines at the site,"

said Kong Hean. "If China Jilin does not manage to finish the project on schedule],

we will find a new company to do so. If we do not, then the government will lose."

The ADB would not comment on the case, saying it was an internal affair between the

contractor and the sub-contractor. The case is expected to reach the Appeal Court

within two months.

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