Rural Roads Driving Away From Anonymity

The anonymity of Cambodia’s sprawling network of rural roads is set to become a thing of the past, with the government confirming last week that it was in the early stages of listing identifying numbers for more than 30,000 km of roads nationwide.

A September 13 proclamation signed by Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara stated that every department of the Ministry of Rural Development, provincial officials, NGOs and development partners “shall use the number of a rural road to identify the road in every official document.”

The proclamation said six-digit numbers would be used to identify roads, with the first two digits referencing the province, the second two referencing the district and the last two referencing the road number.

Yoeun Sophal, director of the Rural Development Ministry’s rural roads department, said last Wednesday that 33,005 km of roads nationwide had been identified as being in need of numbering.

Mr Sophal said a two-year road numbering project, to be carried out between 2011 and 2013, would help provide government officials with a more accurate picture of Cambodia’s rural road network, therefore enabling authorities to allocate appropriate funding for road maintenance and upgrades.

“Without making the road numbers clear, problems managing the roads can occur between the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation and the Ministry of Rural Development,” Mr Sophal said.

“Numbering the roads would help to build transparency in who is responsible for maintaining or repairing the roads.”

Even more important, he said, was that the road number would double as a postal code, making it easier for the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to carry out its work in rural areas away from provincial centers. Improvements to roads identified during the road-numbering project would also assist postal officers, he added.

“It is quite important, because without having good roads the post office service can not reach rural people who need to send and receive information,” he said.

Theng Chan Sangva, chief of Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara’s Cabinet, said last week that the road numbering project was proving to be difficult for officials attempting to locate all of Cambodia’s rural roads.

Mr Chan Sangva said officials were still some way off from finalizing how many rural roads would be part of the project. “We are working on this now and it is not easy compiling the number. There are too many roads,” he said.

Yorn Sarom, director of Mondolkiri province’s rural development department, said last week that even though his province had few identifiable roads, he expected the new road numbering project would help to improve the links between far-flung villages.

“It will help people to direct between one village and another village, and then between a commune and another,” Mr Sarom said.


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