The Cambodian government will organize and pay for the resettlement of the villagers who will be displaced by the Japanese-funded bridge that will connect National Road 1 across the Mekong River in Neak Loeung, Finance Ministry officials said yesterday.
The Japanese government on Wednesday signed a deal for the $131-million bridge, which will span the Mekong River and provide a direct route from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City.
Chea Pheng Chheang, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, said yesterday that though the Japanese government will pay for the bridge, Cambodia is financially responsible for the resettlement of the families and businesses who will have to make way for the two-kilometer bridge.
“There is a committee responsible for this work….. We are responsible for that,” Mr Chheang said, adding that he did not know of the details of the resettlement and referred questions to the chairman of the resettlement committee, Nhean Leng, who was unavailable.
Mr Chheang’s statement contradicts those made Wednesday by Lim Sidenine, secretary of state for the Ministry of Transportation, regarding the Japanese government’s role in the resettlement process.
“The Japanese counterpart has already provided resettlement and compensation for the impacted people,” Mr Sidenine claimed on Wednesday.
A representative of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency said the Japanese Embassy would issue a statement yesterday clarifying its role in the resettlement but later stated the office would delay releasing the statement until today, after conferring with the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works.
Kobayashi Yukiharu, senior representative of JICA, also indicated on Wednesday that the Japanese government is not dealing with resettlement.
“We are not involved in the resettlement matter,” Mr Yukiharu said after a signing ceremony on Wednesday. “We are not in a position to [be] involved in that.”
The resettlement will occur in mid-July, according to a senior official of the Finance Ministry’s resettlement committee who declined to be named. He added that an initial study showed that more than 100 families would be impacted by the Neak Loeung Bridge and the resettlement committee has already contacted affected villagers.
“We have to closely evaluate the villagers’ properties before providing fair compensation,” he said.