An innovative public-private partnership scheme that aims to allow residents to partially fund the costs of infrastructure development in the capital is going well, officials and residents say.
“On our road, two of the residents put in around $5,000 each, City hall matched this, and the next day excavators were there,” one Phnom Penh resident said of his riverside address.
“The street lights have already arrived, next will be the tarmac.”
City Hall has the official target of getting all roads in Phnom Penh paved by the end of 2008. To that end, they have invited concerned residents to fund 50 percent of the costs of infrastructure repair in their area.
The scheme, known as “happy to join with us,” was announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen at a December 13, 2007 groundbreaking ceremony for phase two of the riverside flood protection and drainage project.
Hun Sen ordered City Hall authorities to get the Phnom Penh’s roads paved by using this 50:50 cost-splitting arrangement with residents.
“We welcome the participation of residents to clean up our city environment,” Hun Sen said at the launch.
According to another Phnom Penh resident with money invested in a riverside building, she and her Khmer partner realized that investing as much money as they were in their property but not investing in the local infrastructure – particularly when the road abutting their building was pot-holed, badly lit and unsafe – would be counter productive.
“So we just rang them up and asked if our road was part of the improvement scheme,” she said. “We contacted the local commune chief, who is in contact with City Hall, and he told us what to do.”
After handing over a check for half the amount of the repairs – the total cost including City Hall contributions would have been approximately $20,000, they estimate – they watched with delight as excavators materialized on their pockmarked, dusty road a day later.
“The road used to be hideous and badly lit,” she said. “Now it is so much better – safer too.”
Although there was a slight hold up after the repairs to the road begun – “the sewage pipes obviously needed replacing which no one had anticipated,” she said, adding that an extra payment of $500 was needed to cover it – in general the work went ahead smoothly.
“It happened very quickly and it was quite the event,” she said. “TVK (Cambodian state television) were there and the entire thing got top billing on their news program.”
Mann Chhoeun, deputy governor of Phnom Penh municipality told the Post that “we are working smoothly with local residents and they are happy to join with us.”