Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol urged the South Korean construction firm contracted to repair national roads 2 and 22 to bring in additional machinery and workers in order to complete their work during the dry seasons as planned.
Chanthol told reporters during an inspection on February 19 that the construction period, from planning to completion, was supposed to be 30 months starting from October 2019 and scheduled to be finished on April 16, 2022. The construction broke ground on February 11 last year.
He said 50 per cent of that allotted time period had now passed, but only 27 per cent of the planned road construction had been achieved so far.
The two projects involve the construction of 72.17km of roads, with 62.56km of that covering a stretch of National Road 2 from the Takhmao town roundabout in Kandal province to O’Chambak Takeo Detour Circle in Takeo province. The remaining 9.61km covers National Road 22 from O’Chambak to Ang Ta Som village.
Due to the slower than expected progress, Chanthol said the firm, Hanshin Engineering and Construction Co Ltd, should invest more resources into the project during this dry season as it is the best time of the year to speed up construction.
“Travelling along the road today, I’ve observed that there just isn’t enough heavy machinery in place to take advantage of the favourable conditions for construction right now, since there’s no rain.
“We are going to regret not using this time wisely,” he said.
During the inspection, Chanthol also observed that there are some stretches of completed road that are not up to the standard of quality he expects, so he has further instructed the engineers to make sure their work is completed to the standards set out in the government’s regulations.
“We can negotiate about the duration, like if there’s a one or two month delay and they have clear reasons for it. But the road quality cannot be negotiated over. Quality must be the priority,” he said.
Chanthol noted that his inspection was not meant to hold anyone accountable at this point but to find the necessary technical solutions to these issues that would be acceptable to all parties involved.
However, he said, if the company does not start doing all of its work to the expected standard of quality, then the ministry would escalate the issue by sending them an official letter of warning.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the slow progress was possibly due to the complexity of the road itself and the time it took to deal with the people living next to the road. He said the Covid-19 situation could be causing slowdowns as well.
“The company doesn’t likely intend to delay the construction because it would only make them lose profits. The longer they delay the construction while keeping paying their workers, the more they have to spend on building the road,” he said.
Chey called on both the contractor and the government to pay attention to preparing drainage systems for the roads and to bridge more sections of the road to help drain water faster during the rainy season. He noted that he could also see bridges without drainage systems in some finished parts of the two-lane roads.