A bulldozer rumbles down Street 7 in front of Wat Botum. Across the city authorities are asking residents to split the cost of road repairs. But Mean Chey District Governor Kuoch Chamroeun concedes that some of the city's residents will be unable to pay.
City hall is working to get all the roads in Phnom Penh paved by the end of 2008.
The plan will split costs with residents and begin with the central districts.
Mann Chhoeun, deputy governor of Phnom Penh municipality, said that 7 Makara will
be the first among seven districts in Phnom Penh to have all its roads paved.
After that will come the two central districts of Daun Penh and Chamkarmon, and then
The outer districts of Dangkor, Mean Chey and Russey Keo are also scheduled to be
completed by the end of 2008.
"Some roads are also being expanded," Chhoeun said. "We are working
smoothly with local residents and they are happy to join with us."
"Happy to join with us" means that the local residents are being asked
to share the costs, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who announced the plan at
a December 13 groundbreaking ceremony for the riverside flood protection and drainage
improvement phase II.
Hun Sen ordered city hall authorities to get the roads paved in a 50-50 cost-splitting
arrangement with residents.
"We welcome the participation from the residents to clean up our city environment,"
said Hun Sen.
Residents apparently do not have to pay for the streets surrounding schools. Those
streets are "the responsibility of city hall," he said.
Some roads in Mean Chey and Tuol Kork districts remain dusty, crater-filled moonscapes
that become flooded and peril-filled during the rainy season.
Chhoeun confirmed that those roads will be repaired in the near future.
One resident of Sangkat Boeng Tumpon said that residents are willing to pay to fix
the roads because they are nearly impassable as is.
"Local authorities never care or solve residential matters," said a local
resident who identified himself as Pheap. "We have problems with the poor drainage
and flash flooding. We are ready to help, to repair the road and make a new drainage
system, but they never come."
Kuoch Chamroeun, governor of Mean Chey district, said that 11 roads in the district
are being worked on and authorities are looking for collaboration with local residents
to fix 36 other roads.
However, he said some families could not afford to pay their share of the road building.
"We have some problems with contributions from some local residents," Chamroeun
said. "The living standards of people are not equal."