Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday requested the World Bank to help build roads in rural areas in the Kingdom, which he said will help eradicate poverty and boost the country’s economy.
Mr Hun Sen made the request during a closed-door meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh with Victoria Kwakwa, vice president of the World Bank for East Asia and the Pacific.
Eang Sophalleth, Mr Hun Sen’s assistant, told reporters after the meeting that Mr Hun Sen told Ms Kwakwa that in the past, Asia Development Bank and South Korea helped built roads in rural areas using the double bituminous surface treatment method, noting that the quality suited the rough terrain in rural areas.
He added that infrastructure in rural areas continues to improve but that its development requires a large budget.
“Samdech [Mr Hun Sen] has requested the World Bank to consider the possibility of transforming rural red dirt roads to pavement roads, or DBST, because the World Bank is actively promoting rural development,” Mr Sophalleth said, conveying Mr Hun Sen’s speech in the meeting.
Mr Sophalleth added that Ms Kwakwa noted on the rapid economic growth in Cambodia, which is growing at an average rate of approximately seven percent, as well as the decreasing poverty and infant mortality rates in the Kingdom.
“On behalf of World Bank, I congratulate Cambodia on its impressive achievement, and Cambodia is moving in the right path,” Mr Sophalleth said, quoting Ms Kwakwa.
According to Mr Sophalleth, she said that the World Bank has worked with many communities that have received social land concession from the Royal Government.
“Social land concessions have not only granted people land to grow agricultural crops in order to improve their livelihoods, but it has also been used to build schools and health centres for those living there,” he added, further quoting Ms Kwakwa.
According to Mr Sophalleth, Ms Kwakwa also discussed ongoing cooperation between the World Bank and the Royal Government, including on the development of human resources and the agricultural sector in order to boost Cambodia’s exports of agricultural products.
“Cambodia is a good partner and [we] trust each other,” he said, quoting Ms Kwakwa.
In response, Mr Hun Sen said granting social land concessions is a priority policy of the Royal Government.
“Throughout these seven years so far, the Royal Government had halted providing economic land concessions [ELCs to private firms] and the government had revoked ELCs for companies that failed to implement and develop its master plan or disrespected laws,” Mr Sophalleth said.
“Those lands [from revoked ELCs] have been given to the public for farming and supporting the livelihoods of people,” he added.
Mr Sophalleth said Mr Hun Sen encouraged the World Bank to continue to work with Cambodians who have received social land concessions to ensure the lands are properly maintained and produce a good yield to support people’s livelihoods.
Kong Phoeun, Rural Development Ministry’s spokesman and director the ministry’s Rural Road Department, said that the Royal Government has built about 46,150 kilometres of road in rural areas across the Kingdom.
Chreay Pom, director general of the ministry’s Technical Department, said that he supported the upgrade of gravel roads in rural areas to pavement roads.
“Currently, the ministry is considering to upgrade rural roads to become pavement roads because red dirt roads cannot endure the effects of climate change, such as flooding,” he said.
He noted that about five percent of rural roads have been upgraded to pavement and concrete roads.
“We want to transform rural roads into DBST or concrete roads, especially roads that have suffered from flooding,” Mr Pom said.