The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for a Cambodian Road Connectivity Improvement Project to enhance serviceability and economic opportunities in rural areas.
In a news release, it said the project will connect service centres in rural areas, such as health centres, referral hospitals, schools and markets through the improvement of climate-resilient rural roads.
Improving selected sections of national roads will also reduce transportation costs and road disruption risks, and help facilitate agriculture supply chains and tourism development, the World Bank said.
Its country manager for Cambodia Inguna Dobraja said access to health and school facilities and moving goods markets, in particular during the rainy season, has presented great challenges for people in rural areas.
“The new project continues our commitment to supporting the development of Cambodia’s infrastructure. It will help connect people to services, reduce disruption and generate jobs for local communities during road construction, thus supporting economic recovery,” she said.
Despite significant improvements in past years, transportation costs remain high in Cambodia. Roads are the predominant mode of transportation in the country and investments are needed, particularly in rural areas, the World Bank said.
“Rural roads account for more than 75 per cent of the road network, yet only five per cent are paved. With a changing climate, heavy rainfall and flooding pose increased risk of disruption for road connectivity.
“Analysis conducted as a part of the project preparation indicates that during floods more than 26 per cent of the population in the project areas face the risk of losing access to emergency health facilities and schools.
“Another 18 per cent would have to spend 30 minutes more in travel time to reach hospitals. The selected road sections for investment prioritise those that connect households to hospitals, schools and markets,” it said.
The target project areas include Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum and Kratie provinces with a combined population of over two million people, of whom 80 per cent live in rural areas.
This project will support the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Rural Development with critical institutional development, including financing, road safety and maintenance, the release said.
Coalition for Road Safety senior official Lim Sokchea said civil society organisations working for safer roads have urged the government to allocate 10 per cent of any credit to be used for driver education.
“We want traffic equipment on the road to increase caution among citizens and protect them when they have to get used to using standard roads. Citizens tend to speed after road development, which can cause traffic accidents,” she said.
General Department of Land Transport director Chhoun Von said on Sunday that the government has enhanced cooperation with all parties related to the infrastructure development plan.
“We not only work with the World Bank or Asian Development Bank, but all development partners to collaborate, especially in infrastructure construction,” he said.