As much as local people are benefiting from the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) recovery project following last year’s record floods, they aren’t receiving all the benefits they could, according to some accounts.
Operating in five provinces of Cambodia to restore road access to those affected by the floods, the ADB and its government partners conducted a press tour to highlight their efforts at recovery, a year after the disaster.
Deputy Country Director Peter Brimble of the ADB’s resident mission said the work was part of the first two stages of a three-year plan to “build back better”.
The roads, bridges and dykes, all still under construction, were being built by workers from other provinces because some of the local people felt the pay was too low.
Oeun Bunthoeun, a concrete mold specialist from Kampong Chhang province working on the Krong Prey Veng and Brary Lex bridges in Prey Veng province along National Road 11, said he receives 20,000 riel (US$5) per day, while local workers, who are often classed as unskilled labourers, receive only 12,000 per day.
“The local workers demand 20,000 riel per day,” Oeun Bunthoeun said, estimating that only two workers out of the 30 on the bridge projects came from the same area.
Local fertilizer salesman Long Chen Thoeun, whose residence is adjacent to the construction area, knew of nobody from the local area working on either the bridges or the dyke that acts as a detour around Prey Veng city and connects National Roads 8 and 11.
Prek Po Deputy Commune Chief Khut An, who is also a rice farmer, said the road improvements made it much easier to get to market via rural road KC1A that links Srey Santhor district to Koh Sotin district in Kampong Cham.
“Previously I spent 10 minutes to get to market, now I spend only two or three. Now we fall a lot less and even save on fuel,” he said.
As part of the flood recovery project the ADB has engaged a cash-for-work element in its program to get local people involved, but that was in the immediate aftermath of the floods when emergency repairs were needed, according to Brimble.
Senior Project Officer for infrastructure at the ADB, Nida Ouk, said the construction and rehabilitation of Cambodia’s rural roads are more often done by local unskilled labour because the job does not require the use of heavy machinery.
As part of ADB’s plan for the third and final stage of the project, which should last a further two years, the ADB is looking to provide local workers with maintenance contracts along a section of road, Brimble said.
Together with the Australian and Cambodian governments, ADB provided about $67.18 million for post-flood infrastructure recovery, which the bank is integrating into its resident mission plan to dovetail with their other work, Brimble added.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greogry Pellechi at [email protected]