ADB Protest Leads City to Rehire Contractor

Phnom Penh officials have reversed their decision to fire a US-based consultant on a major drainage system overhaul after protests from the Asian Develop­ment Bank, which loaned most of the money for the project.

Shaladia Associates is back on the $5.2 million project, Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara said Monday. Last month, Chea Sophara apologized on the radio for street flooding and blamed Shaladia and another company for slow work on the drainage project.

The governor said he sent a letter urging Shaladia to speed up the work during the dry season. He also said he gave engineers at the municipal Department of Public Works authority to ap­prove work rather than having to go through the governor’s office, in order to speed up the process.

Both decisions, Chea Sophara said, were “up to me.”

However, it appears that the intervention of the ADB, which funds most of the project, played a role as well. ADB officials last month said they were “greatly surprised” to learn of a plan to terminate Shaladia in a letter provided to The Cambodia Daily.

A loan review mission sent by the ADB found that “many municipal and district officials bypassed [public works project managers] and gave instructions directly to the contractor or consultant, causing confusion and conflicts.”

That appraisal was contained in an ADB-written memorandum listing mutually agreed changes in project management signed by Chea Sophara and an ADB official Nov 7. The memorandum confirmed that Shaladia would stay on the job.

Korean contractor Shinshung has agreed to add four or five work crews next month to speed up the work, said Ean Narin, deputy project manager at the public works department.

The project calls for clearing and reinforcing two major canals with concrete and building a new pumping station south of Boeung Trabek. The project should speed drainage through much of the central city, Ean Narin said.

Originally scheduled for completion in February 2000, work is now expected to be completed by mid-2003, Ean Narin said.


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