Railway Families File Separate Complaint Against ADB Bank

Another group of families living along Cambodia’s dilapidated railway tracks is filing a complaint with the compliance review panel of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), accusing the lender of failing to abide by its own resettlement policies.

Following previous complaints from some of the 1,000-plus families forced to move to make way for a $142 million project to rehabilitate the country’s aging tracks, funded mostly by the ADB, the bank’s review panel last year admitted to major mistakes in the project’s planning and follow-through. Two months later, it came up with a strategy to bring the project in line with ADB policy, which requires that the bank’s work does not negatively impact the families it affects.

Now, another 22 people who are still facing eviction or have lost pieces of their land are filing their own complaint.

Their letter to the review panel, dated Sunday, said the ADB was still failing to ensure that they are not left worse off by the project.

It said the families in the complaint that had lost pieces of their land had been left with too little to live with dignity, and that the families facing eviction were being given no choice but to move to a resettlement site plagued with problems. Families that have already moved to the Trapaing Anhchanh site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh have suffered from a dearth of job opportunities and mounting debt.

The railway families are being assisted by a pair of NGOs: Equitable Cambodia and Inclusive Development International.

“The communities have tried for years to have an honest dialogue with ADB and the [Cambodian] government about adequate resettlement and the door has consistently remained closed,” Equitable Cambodia director Eang Vuthy said in the statement. “Hopefully this new complaint will help pry the door open at last.”

The ADB, which is based in Manila, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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