ADB to Help Find Answers for Railway Families

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday promised to help pry answers out of the government for residents of Phnom Penh who fear losing all or some of their land to a bank-funded project to rehabilitate the country’s railway network.

ADB country director Eric Sidgwick made the pledge outside the bank’s country office, where about 200 representatives of those families had gathered to protest.

Residents of Phnom Penh worried about losing their land to a railway rehabilitation project protest Monday in front of the country office of the Asian Development Bank, which has funded most of the work. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Residents of Phnom Penh worried about losing their land to a railway rehabilitation project protest Monday in front of the country office of the Asian Development Bank, which has funded most of the work. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Some 1,000 families whose homes abutted dilapidated sections of track in several provinces have already been evicted to make way for the project. The families who gathered at the ADB office Monday have not lost their homes, but are anxious because the government has not said how much land on either side of the track future upgrades will require.

During a meeting with the families last month, Mr. Sidgwick told them that the project requires 3.5 meters of space on either side of the track’s centerline in Phnom Penh. But the families want to know if the government will need even more land, and they want the ADB, which is funding the bulk of the work, to help them get answers.

Mr. Sidgwick told them Monday that the bank would act as a go-between for the families with both the government and Toll Royal Railway, the joint Australian-Cambodian venture that has a 30-year concession to operate the rail network.

“ADB cannot answer all your questions, but we will try to help facilitate the answers to your questions,” he told the crowd.

Ny Sandos, a representative for the families, said they would discuss the offer among themselves before deciding whether to accept it.

Pheng Sovicheano, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Transportation in charge of the railway project, declined to comment.

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