Japanese Funder Blames Street’s Ruin on City Hall

Japan’s aid arm, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding a drainage project along Phnom Penh’s Street 63, said Wednesday that while it was true sections of the busy road remained in a deplorable condition, responsibility for the street lay with City Hall.

The stretch of Street 63 from Sihanouk Boulevard to Central Market in Chaktomuk commune is riddled with potholes and clouded with dust, causing business owners to complain that it is ruining their livelihoods and residents saying it is causing health problems.

On Monday, commune chief Un Sam Ang and City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche both said that the JICA was overseeing the drainage project and was therefore responsible for fixing the road.

JICA, however, said by email Wednesday that in fact City Hall is in charge of operations, and therefore responsible for the state of Street 63.

“This is [a] PPCH [Phnom Penh City Hall] project financed by JICA, meaning that the project is under responsibility of PPCH,” said Seng Solady, program officer for JICA’s public relations and training affairs section.

Ms. Solady said the contract to carry out the construction work was made between City Hall and a private company: “There [is] no contract between JICA and constructor [sic].”

Contacted Wednesday, Mr. Dimanche backtracked on his earlier comment, saying issues arising from the situation on Street 63 were not in fact JICA’s sole responsibility.

“City Hall initiated the project with funding from JICA…but a [subcontracted] private Japanese company called Sumitomo Construction Company is implementing the construction, and it is they who fix the pipes and the roads,” he said.

JICA has repeatedly pressed City Hall to solve “the bad road condition, the dust, and also the aesthetic problem,” Ms. Solady said.

Consequently, Ms. Solady said that JICA requested a meeting between City Hall officials, the contractor and JICA, which was held on Saturday.

“We [now] expect the situation shall be improved at the earliest possible timing,” she said without elaborating.

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