Gov’t Hopes to Improve Road Maintenance

The government is developing a road maintenance system in an effort to save millions of dollars lost due to crumbling highways, officials said Monday.

“I think when our roads are still alive, it means that the life of the econ­omy will improve,” Uk Chan, un­dersecretary of state at the Min­istry of Public Works and Trans­port, said Monday at a con­fer­ence in Phnom Penh, where about 100 people gathered to discuss the third draft of the Road Law.

The law aims to provide a legal frame­work to maintain and extend exis­ting roads, classify public roads, regulate road transport carriers and provide an adequate road infrastructure. Officials hope to soon present the law to the Coun­cil of Ministers.

“I believe that the country lost about $300 million out of a total $500 million spent on constructing roads so far,” said Mour Kimsan, deputy general director of technical affairs for the Min­istry of Rural Development. “This is because we don’t have funds to maintain them on time.”

The law gives the Ministry of Public Works responsibility for planning, building and maintaining national and provincial roads. The Ministry of Rural Develop­ment has power over tertiary roads and provincial and municipal governors have power over city roads.

Road authorities would receive their own budgets from the Min­is­try of Finance, the law says, but they will not be able to disburse funds for new roads if they do not have the funds to maintain existing ones. The Ministry of Public Works must also ensure that the whole country is accessible by road.

The law allows the private sector to finance roads, provided they comply with existing laws and are subject to public scrutiny.


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