A month after the 49th Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual Governors Meeting (AGM) in Frankfurt, the project-affected communities of the Cambodian Railway Rehabilitation Project still awaits action regarding the response given by President Takehiko Nakao in the query that was posted by one of the complainants.
Sim Pov, a high school teacher and a representative from Battambang, a Cambodian Railway Rehabilitation Project affected community gave out his statement and humbly asked President Nakao to respond and aid their situation.
Mr. Sim Pov, flew 9,229 km to ask President Nakao for his help on the following:
Displacement and the need for livelihood for the people who were relocated.
People in resettlement areas are now in dire condition because the sites where they were placed have no livelihood opportunities, poor water and and road infrastructure, and has very little job opportunity.
As a result, project-affected families fell into heavy indebtedness because of the poorly implemented resettlement process. A 2013 independent review of the resettlement commissioned by ADB( put the hyperlink on CRP recommendations on the project), found out that many relocated families incurred huge debts. The review suggested that the families were at a great risk of losing their home by selling their new plots of land to settle the debts that they acquire in the process of resettling.
For six years the relocation sites have no access to clean drinking water.
Sim Pov then showed President Nakao a bottle containing murky water from Battambang and sincerely asked ‘what if your family Mr. President would be drinking this water?’ (insert video hyperlink)
THE NIGHTMARE OF RESETTLEMENT
An article published by Cambodian Daily (insert hyperlink of article so they can check) describe the plight of families being plucked out of their homes to be placed somewhere else to give way to development, in this case, the rehabilitation of the Cambodian Railway. It indicated that aside from losing their properties, livelihoods and income, families are also put into resettlement sites that are far from the families’ jobs. In addition, the promise to help them earn more money were late in coming. Imagine the ordeal of having your transportation fare eating up most of your daily budget.
(will put how much it cost to go to work and back from Battambang)
The compensation scheme drawn up in 2006 was not changed when relocation sites were set up farther away than originally planned, nor adjusted for inflation when being paid out five or more years later, this resulted to evictees being forced to take on even more debt, often at exorbitant interest rates leading to a cycle of debts for most families.
Most resettlement site does not provide clean water, and workers either have to buy their own clean water for bathing and drinking (another expense which the families should incorporate in their budget), or use the unsanitary water sources available to them. This practice exposes them to diseases and makes the people get sick very quickly especially the children.
Mr. Sim Pov with high hopes asked President Nakao to hasten the implementation of the CRP recommendations. He then went, bowed down to pay his respect and gave the bottle to President Nakao.
President Nakao accepted the bottled water and set it aside.
President Nakao admitted that the problems surrounding the Cambodian Railway Rehabilitation Project have been an “issue for quite a while”, but the independent complaints review panel have already studied it and have made recommendations. He also emphasized that ADB “is working together with the government of Cambodia with the focus on the problem of unjust compensations.: but did was careful to mention of any deadlines.
He also stated that there are still grievances particularly in the city of Phnom Penh and they are trying to address it as well.
The project-affected community have exhausted the ADB’s complaints mechanisms and hope that the situation will be addressed very soon – and will not be like the bottled water; something that was set aside.
For the full video please watch it here
Written by Jen Derillo. Jen is NGO Forum on ADB's Program Coordinator for Communications.