The Rural Development Ministry last year paved more than 40,000 kilometres of roads in rural areas to accommodate business travel.
According to the ministry’s annual report, in 2018 ministry officials worked with development partners to pave 39,045 kilometres of dirt road, 165 kilometres of asphalt road and seven kilometres of concrete road. It added that 31 concrete bridges were also built in 2018.
The ministry also said in its report that about 2,000 kilometres of road were repaired last year, noting that 267.95 kilometres were damaged during floods.
Kong Phoeun, director of the ministry’s rural roads department, said the government is currently constructing new roads and repairing roads leading to provincial cities.
The government is also aiming to upgrade all dirt roads into asphalt and concrete in order to further accommodate economic development.
“Improving the lives of people in rural areas can be done by developing infrastructure that facilitates business travel,” Mr Phoeun said. “Day and night, people in rural areas these days are very active.”
The annual report noted the ministry also faced challenges in 2018, including roads being damaged by overloaded trucks and floods.
Mob Thyrith, director of the Preah Vihear provincial rural development department, said his department managed to repair 3,770 kilometres of damaged roads last year.
“We make sure to inspect roads on a daily basis,” Mr Thyrith said. “We saw roads damaged by overloaded trucks and floods.”
Hoat Nang, an O’Raing district resident in Mondulkiri province, said road conditions used to be unbearable before the provincial officials began making improvements.
“Before we only had damaged roads, but now some roads have been improved,” Mr Nang said. “There are still many damaged roads – and we also need concrete roads.”
Improving roads in rural areas is part of the ministry’s 2019-2023 strategic framework. The strategy also aims to teach rural residents on how to repair, construct and upgrade infrastructure.
Pheak Sothea, director of the Rural Development Ministry’s economic development department, said people living in rural areas continue to have low incomes due to their dependence on agriculture.
In order to remedy their economic situation, Mr Sothea said people in rural areas must learn how to run a small business.
“The ministry is monitoring the situation,” he said. “We are helping them by creating a money-lending programme so that they can create a small business in order to improve their living conditions.”