Speaking before the Supreme Consultation Forum on Wednesday, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol admitted his ministry’s shortcomings in the management of public construction works that have contributed to the fast deterioration of local roads.
The Supreme Consultation Forum summoned Sun Chanthol to the Peace Palace to question him on road quality issues.
Supreme Consultation Forum member Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung grilled the minister on issues ranging from overloaded lorries to a lack of proper drainage systems and corruption.
Vathana Sabung, who is president of the Khmer Rise Party, said corruption was at the root of the problem of overloaded trucks.
Underpaid officials at weighing stations, he said, allowed individuals to load too much cargo onto their vehicles in exchange for bribes. The problem cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to Vathana Sabung.
Chanthol agreed that corruption at weighing stations was part of the problem. He said his ministry is working to reform the system, remove corrupt officials from their positions, or arrest officials that take bribes.
The ministry, he said, also plans to install smart scales that will reduce the role of officials.
On drainage problems, he said the drainage system in many roads was deficient because it is built once the road is completed. He said the ministry often lacks the budget to build the road and its drainage system simultaneously.
Chanthol said efforts will be redoubled to address these problems, particularly with regards to corrupt officials.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the first step to improve road quality and reduce corruption is to amend the Law on Public Procurement and the Road Law to allow for better monitoring of public infrastructure projects.
With the right law implemented efficiently, road quality would improve, he said.
“We see a lack of involvement in monitoring public projects, and we are not enforcing the law properly. This gives corrupt officials an opportunity to take advantage of the system.
“The ministry must allow experts to monitor law enforcement activities and amend the Public Procurement Law,” he said.