The Ministry of Rural Development plans to upgrade existing dirt roads, which currently link almost all villages across the country, to climate-resilient roads in 75 per cent of over 10,000 villages by 2030.

Rural development minister Chhay Rithisen explained that climate change-resistant roads are asphalt and concrete roads that can be used in both the rainy and dry seasons. He said that currently, about 80 per cent of rural roads are dirt roads that are only usable in one season.

“Asphalt and concrete roads, resistant to climate change, currently span approximately 10,000km. By 2030, we plan to ensure that 75 per cent of the 14,577 villages have [such] roads,” he said.

“Some roads are not climate-resilient and can only be used in the dry season. They are often flooded or destroyed during the rainy season. [This effort] will guarantee equal road connectivity. It is an ongoing effort from our previous work,” he added.

Currently, the total number of developed rural roads that connect villages to villages, villages to communes and communes to districts is approximately 16,600 and span 50,000km.

The minister explained that rural road systems are divided into four types. The first connects districts to districts, covering about 10,000km. This is the main backbone for serving the people, he said. 

He noted the second type connects districts to communes and also spans about 10,000km. The third type connects communes to communes with more than 12,000km, and the fourth connects villages to villages, with the largest network covering 20,000km, as per the minister.

“Ninety per cent or more of our rural villages are interconnected,” he said.

Rithisen added that the ministry is also focusing on improving the quality of roads, including finding new materials or techniques that can reduce construction costs. 

Workers lay stones on the embankment along a newly constructed concrete road in Prey Veng's Sithor Kandal district in May 2024. Ministry of Rural Development

“This will allow us to build more roads of higher quality with the same amount of money,” he said.

Rithisen noted the ministry will implement the projects using the national budget. He said during construction, a technical team will monitor the process at all times, adding that if the road is not completed on schedule, the contracted construction company will be fined or blacklisted and ordered to pay for any losses. 

He emphasised that proper bidding and inspection procedures are in place for the projects.

“Where roads are heavily used, we build with concrete to ensure durability. For roads that are not used as much, we build two layers of asphalt. This approach minimises negative impacts and meets the need for strong, long-lasting roads,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Pit Karuna stated that the project is not limited to any specific province; it depends on actual needs and requirements. 

“In principle, we will build 30 per cent new roads and improve the quality of 70 per cent of existing roads,” he said.

“What we are focusing on is upgrading to climate change-resistant roads,” he added.

The Kampot Provincial Administration also plans to convert asphalt roads into concrete ones for long-lasting, weather-resistant use. This is necessary because Kampot is a coastal province where heavy rainfall often damages asphalt roads during the rainy season, according to the provincial information department. 

“To ensure that all roads in the city last longer and do not waste the national budget, the provincial administration will upgrade asphalt roads to concrete,” Kampot provincial governor Mao Thonin said during a recent meeting.