A senior government official has accused authorities involved in the construction and repair of the nation’s roads of embezzling a significant portion of the money budgeted to them.
Nhim Vanda, the first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, on Wednesday added his voice to a small but growing chorus of criticism within the ruling CPP about the state of the country’s roads.
Speaking at a housing consultation workshop for the World Bank’s Ketsana Emergency Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project, Mr. Vanda claimed that up to 60 percent of road budgets were being embezzled by construction officials, and called for an end to the misuse of funds.
To illustrate his point, Mr. Vanda singled out the poor quality of streets built under former Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, using the slang phrase “phlov thvoeu chap” which literally means “long-lasting road.”
“If you ask, ‘Which country has built the longest-lasting road?’ one would answer U.S. or Japan,” he said. “But one child would deny this answer and reply, ‘It is Cambodia! The construction of a single road in Cambodia never stops!’”
Mr. Vanda also said although it costs more than $1 million per kilometer to build a national highway, these roads never remained intact for long because officials involved with the construction embezzeled so much of the money intended for the projects.
His comments followed concerns raised about the deterioration of the country’s roads during the debate of a new Roads Law in the National Assembly in April.
CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun criticized the condition of the unpaved National Road 6A, while Deputy Prime Minister Sok An questioned the government’s inability to control the weight of loads being transported on the country’s roads.
In March, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong said he believed funds intended to repair the city’s streets were being misused.
“When the pavement of a road is thick it means the embezzlement would be small, but when it is thin, the embezzlement would be big,” he said at the time.
Sam Pisith, director of the municipal public works and transportation department, and City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche declined to comment on Mr. Vanda’s remarks.
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