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Road project ‘mishandled’

Traffic crawls along a section of unsurfaced National Road 1 on the outskirts of Phnom Penh earlier this month. An evaluation on the ADB road rehabilitation project states that it only achieved 64 per cent of the intended outcome.
Traffic crawls along a section of unsurfaced National Road 1 on the outskirts of Phnom Penh earlier this month. An evaluation on the ADB road rehabilitation project states that it only achieved 64 per cent of the intended outcome. Heng Chivoan

Road project ‘mishandled’

A seven-year, multimillion-dollar road rehabilitation project was rated “less than successful” in a report last week by the Asian Development Bank’s Independent Evaluation Department.

Costing $47.62 million, and funded by the ADB, the Australian government, the International Development Agency, the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Cambodian government, the project was intended to rehabilitate 1,200 kilometres of the Kingdom’s roads as well as establish the Road Asset Management Office (RAMO) under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT).

The “envisaged outcome was that the MPWT would be able to plan and implement road asset management on its rehabilitated road network . . . and for the Ministry of Economy and Finance to budget accordingly”, according to the document.

However, the ADB’s independent review found that only 767 kilometres of road were maintained, achieving only 64 per cent of the intended outcome.

What’s more, the financial outlook of the newly established RAMO and road maintenance budget was judged to be tenuous, with the report noting that “without continued government budgetary support sufficient road maintenance could not be sustained”.

The performance of the borrower – the Cambodian government – was rated “less than satisfactory” on the grounds of insufficient “annual adequate budget allocation for road maintenance”, as well as for allocated funds not being used due to coordination problems, particularly between the MPWT and the Finance Ministry.

Multiple officials from the MPWT and the Finance Ministry could not be reached.

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