Phnom Penh Asks Residents to Pay for Local Road Repairs

City Hall has called on Phnom Penh residents to pick up half the cost of planned road improvements within their communes, municipal officials said Sunday.

Municipal Cabinet chief Mann Chhoeun said that city officials had been doing their best to beautify and develop the capital, including repairing its major arteries.

But limited funding has prevented side roads, most useful to residents, from being fixed, he said.

“People would pay more attention and have the will to take care of the roads in their commune if those roads were paid for with some of the residents’ own money,” Mann Chhoeun said.

“People have been too careless and allowed big trucks to pass, which damages the roads, be­cause they thought that the roads were constructed by the state.”

Mann Chhoeun said residents will have to select committees within their communes to collect and deposit money for the roads.

But contributions will not be compulsory, he added.

“We are not going to force people to [pay] if they do not want to pay, in order to stop criticisms that the government has forced citizens into the deal,” Mann Chhoeun said.

One city hall official said Sun­day that the road-financing plan was made public over broadcast media April 6, although City Hall did not disseminate a hard copy of its appeal until last week.

Not everyone sounded clear on the plan.

Bin Lorn, chief of Boeng Tum­pun commune in Meanchey district, said Sunday that he had been asked to collect only 10 percent of the cost for road refurbishment in his commune—a request he thought reasonable.

He said he had collected 5 million riel and deposited it at the National Treasury so that City Hall would come up with the other 53 million riel to fix his commune’s roads.

“I just got the order earlier this month to ask residents to pay 10 per­cent of any road construction project,” Bin Lorn said. “It would be a difficult and complicated man­ner to collect 50 percent. Even 20 percent would be difficult to do.”

Calls made Sunday to several officials at the Municipal Depart­ment of Public Works and Trans­port­­ation, the office responsible for evaluating the costs of road repairs, went unanswered.


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