Road repairs following recent nationwide flooding will cost $91 million, the Rural Development Ministry estimated this week, as farmers say they are struggling with rising costs due to broken transport links.
Rural Development Ministry spokesperson Chan Darong said the government will look at better drainage, elevating roads, tree planting and other measures to try to mitigate future flood damage.
Between September 1 to October 27, severe rain hit 20 provinces, flooding 149,857 families and killing 45 people, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Darong said 17,659 roads were flooded. Once floodwaters subsided, inspectors found that more than 3,000 km were damaged, he said.
“The size of all the damage totals 3,154.42 km. … The first estimate is that we need a budget of about $91 million,” Darong said.
The ministry would study options to reduce erosion, such as installing more drainage, building roads higher than before, laying double the asphalt and planting trees, he said. “We have to think about what kind of trees we can plant that could reduce the impact of the floods, or we could plant a kind of grass on the curbs to prevent erosion.”
The provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Pursat would be prioritized for repairs, while Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kandal, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Siem Reap were also heavily affected, he said.
Pheak Phoan, a farmer in Battambang’s Thma Koul district, said many roads in his area were badly damaged.
Farmers were struggling to harvest rice and transport it, with crops damaged and costs rising, Phoan said.
“Our people’s harvest is little, and when they come to transport it, it is difficult and the cost is expensive,” he said, adding that he hoped the repairs would be swift.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that in order for the roads to be of good quality and to not waste public money, the government needs to review the bidding process for constructions.
It should be open to public monitoring from citizens and civil society organizations, he said. “Before building the road, they need to show the cost of the road and let the public know,” Chey said.
Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index has routinely rated Cambodia near the bottom of the world, last year ranking it 162nd out of 198 assessed countries.