The Cambodian Railway Tracker

cambodia railway
A functional national railway can create jobs, better transport options, enhanced competitiveness for products made in Cambodia, and cheaper transport for goods and commodities.

The Government of Australia and ADB are working with the Royal Government of Cambodia and other donor partners to rehabilitate the national railway in Cambodia. The existing railway has fallen into a state of significant disrepair following years of neglect and vandalism dating back to the Khmer Rouge era.

The new railway will position Cambodia as a true subregional transport hub, creating new jobs and business opportunities in the manufacturing and logistic services sectors. The efficiency and cost-effectiveness of Cambodia's transport system will also be enhanced by enabling the efficient and safe transport of heavy, bulky, and hazardous cargo.

Through these benefits the project will increase the competitiveness of the Cambodian economy.

2 December 2014 - Second Quarterly Progress Report on the Remedial Actions

ADB Management developed remedial actions in consultation with the Government of Cambodia to implement the Board's decision on the six recommendations of the Compliance Review Panel Final Report on the Cambodia Railway project. The second quarterly report summarizes the progress made in the implementation of recommendations and remedial actions as of 31 October 2014.

27 August 2014 - First Quarterly Progress Report on the Remedial Actions

ADB Management developed remedial actions in consultation with the Government of Cambodia to implement the Board's decision on the six recommendations of the Compliance Review Panel Final Report on the Cambodia Railway project. The first quarterly report summarizes the progress made in the implementation of recommendations and remedial actions as of 31 July 2014.

25 April 2014: Management’s Action Plan to Implement the Board Decision on the Recommendations of the Compliance Review Panel Final Report

ADB Management has developed an action plan outlining its approach to implementing the Board-approved recommendations and the remedial actions that have been identified, in consultation with the Government of Cambodia, with their implementation arrangements and timelines.

31 January 2014: Statement on the GMS: Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project - Final Report of the Compliance Review Panel

The Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Board of Directors today agreed to bring the GMS: Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project into full compliance with its safeguard policies following a report by ADB’s Compliance Review Panel (CRP).

23 August 2013: Social Safety Net Fund and Health Insurance

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Chan Rithy used SKY health insurance to seek treatment for a painful fractured knee.

The Project's Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP) includes social safety net funds (SSNF) which relocated households can use in times of crisis and emergencies. In Phnom Penh, 41 relocated households accessed SSNF for household health insurance.

  Read more.

4 June 2013: ADB statement on STT report on railway project

ADB welcomes the thorough report from Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) on the impacts on the population relocated to the Trapeang Anhchanh site, noting that significant strides have been made to improve the resettlement process and restore incomes since the STT report was researched in July 2012. See full statement.

19 March 2013: Further steps to improve resettlement monitoring & implementation

In September 2012, ADB contracted a social safeguards monitoring specialist to undertake a 10-day mission to Cambodia to assess internal and external monitoring of resettlement related to the GMS: Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project.

The consultant was asked to prepare a report providing recommendations for improving: (i) the monitoring system in both the short- and long-term; (ii) systems and procedures for monitoring livelihood and income restoration programs; and (iii) methodological approaches for undertaking comparisons of pre- and post-project living situations in the long-term.

The final report, which was submitted to ADB in January 2013, offers some useful recommendations that ADB is discussing with the Government of Cambodia. These include: eliminating resettlers’ risk of losing their house-plots; multiplying resettlers’ opportunities to access job opportunities and other options for income recovery; resolving accumulated economic legacy issues; and restructuring the organization of the independent monitoring and follow-up process.

The report is one element in a series of efforts designed to improve the resettlement of households affected by the project. Other initiatives to improve their lives and livelihoods include a social safety net fund offering grants to resettled vulnerable households in cases of crisis or emergency, and an expanded income restoration program allowing resettled households to access low-interest loans and grants. Self-Help Groups have also been established to support small-scale community development projects that can improve facilities and services available to resettled households.

Although the report, which was commissioned as an internal working paper, contains numerous references to internal information and communications falling under ADB’s Public Communications Policy’s exceptions to disclosure, ADB believes that sharing its recommendations will benefit the broader public interest and promote collaborative efforts in improving the lives and livelihoods of resettled households.

View the recommendations:

21 January 2013: Health Insurance made available for relocated households

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Ms. Ouk Bunna Sothy and Mr. Sek Piseth welcome the SKY health insurance. Photo: Arnold Marseille.

AusAID has made an agreement with the non-profit health insurance agency SKY to offer households relocated by the railway project in Phnom Penh coverage of medical bills at reduced premium rates. This is part of the services provided by SKY elsewhere in Phnom Penh. As part of SKY, families are expected to pay the monthly premium fees themselves. However as part of services provided by the railway project, families can choose to cover this through the Social Safety Net Funds made available for each Self Help Group. Fees range from 12,000 Riel (US$3) per month for a single person household to maximum 22,000 Riel (US$5.50) per month for a family of eight or more. Project staff has been providing onsite support to families to complete the registration forms.

Mr. Sek Piseth (60) and his wife Ms. Ouk Bunna Sothy (51) live with their 16-year old son on the Trapeang Anh Chan resettlement site in Trapang Krosang commune. They have just registered for the SKY Health Insurance. "All members of our Self Help Group have decided to join the program using the Social Safety Net Fund", tells Piseth. "We think it is of great benefit because whenever we go to the hospital we have to pay a lot of money for treatment". Sothy nods her head firmly in agreement. "We recently had to go to the Calamette Hospital in Phnom Penh and had to pay US$18 per day just to stay! In addition we had to pay US$50 for treatment and blood samples. In total we spent almost US$ 100!"

The SKY insurance will cover registered households until the end of the SKY program in Cambodia in September 2013. SKY insurance had been accessed by some of the relocated families when they were living along the railway tracks. This initiative allows them to access once again these low-cost services. Medical coverage is expected to assist households in the crucial transition period of relocation, so that the rebuilding of their lives in the new site is not financially affected by health shocks. AusAid and ADB will draw lessons from these experiences and explore possibilities to continue these types of services for relocated households under existing health initiatives in Cambodia such as the ID Poor program. Those programs are already available for many poor Cambodian families, including for relocated households in other parts of the railway, like in Pursat.

08 October 2012: Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project - complaint filed to Australian Human Rights Commission

ADB is carefully reviewing recommendations set forth in a complaint filed with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about the Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project and is committed to working closely with the Government of Cambodia and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to address outstanding issues. Some of the concerns raised in the complaint are being already addressed, and ADB is fully committed to ensuring full compliance with its safeguards. Read the holding statement.

September 24, 2012: Cambodia railway accountability update OSPF

Based on a course of action agreed with stakeholders of the Railway Rehabilitation Project the ADB Office of the Special Project Facilitator (OSPF) has met with affected households in Poipet, Battambang, and Sihanouk Ville between 28 August and 14 September 2012, and will meet AHs in Phnom Penh from September 24 until 12 October 2012. The four activities in the course of action implemented in the mentioned four resettlement sites are: (i) capacity building for affected people on problem solving; (ii) one-on-one sessions to discuss and resolve individual concerns; (iii) assessment and plan for addressing concerns related to infrastructure and services at the relocation sites; and (iv) planning for development activities including the income restoration program of Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) and the expanded income restoration program (EIRP) of ADB/AusAID.

17 August 2012: ADB statement on Samrong Estate Legal Opinion

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People expressed their concerns on the sufficiency of compensations. Photo by Arnold Marseille.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been provided with an independent legal opinion on the ownership of the Samrong Estate, a parcel of land located at Sangkat Samrong Krom and Sangkat Kakab, Khan Dangkor, Phnom Penh that is affected by the Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project.

The independent legal opinion provided by HBS Law concludes that the Samrong Estate is public State property under the Cambodian law and it is not subject to private ownership. The independent legal opinion is based on review of applicable laws, relevant documents, and letters and receipts provided by the people who live,farm or have businesses in the Samrong Estate.

Affected households in the Samrong Estate will be provided with compensation and assistance as set forth in the governing Resettlement Plan.

ADB places importance on stakeholder engagement, communication and consultation, and is currently working closely with the Government of Cambodia to ensure the findings of the legal opinion are properly communicated to all households and other stakeholders. The legal opinion was already shared with affected households on 17 August 2012, and further consultations will be carried out as part of the updating process for the project Resettlement Plan for the Samrong Estate.

See the legal opinion.

IRC holds public consultation on Samrong Estate Resettlement Plan

In an immediate response to the disclosure of the legal opinion which clarifies the status and legal ownership of Samrong Estate, the Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) organized on Friday morning a public consultation at the Samrong commune hall. A large number of the 231 households affected by the project construction of a freight and rolling stock maintenance facility in Samrong Estate, attended the consultation chaired by Undersecretary of State and IRC Chairman H.E. Nhean Leng, accompanied by representatives of the IRC, AusAid, and ADB.

Before opening the floor for questions of affected persons, they were informed of the legal opinion and the updating of the resettlement plan prepared in 2009. People were also informed of the availability of the legal opinion on ADB's website; and that the legal opinion, summary of the legal opinion, and questions and answers regarding the legal opinion were placed in commune offices.

Various questions made clear that provision of information and an understanding of the legal opinion is crucial for affected persons. IRC explained that the next steps in updating the resettlement plan include undertaking the replacement cost survey to update earlier determined compensation rates, and to measure—together with affected households—their affected assets. More consultations will be organized during this process.

See the summary of the legal opinion and Q&A.

26 July 2012: Capacity building on resettlement policy, process, and implementation for relocating households in Phnom Penh

On 26th July 2012, the Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) organized a training for people affected by the railway rehabilitation project in Phnom Penh. About 100 participants attended the training including affected households who are living along the railway tracks and will need to relocate in Phnom Penh (Green Trade Warehouse line, railway station, Toul Sangke, and Russey Keo). Representatives of the IRC, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Phnom Penh Municipality, and local authorities of the relevant Sangkat and Khan also attended.

The training aimed to raise awareness about the Railway Rehabilitation Project, its impact on affected people's livelihoods, policies relating to resettlement, compensation policies, grievance redress mechanism, the income restoration program and roles and responsibilities of the IRC, local authorities, and the ADB and AusAID. The training also provided guidance to affected people on the relocation process, particularly on managing expectations of resettlement, sound financial management and the risks of borrowing money, particularly from private moneylenders.

The training described the experience of some of the affected people already resettled by the project some of whom have taken large loans from private moneylenders often to rebuild better and bigger houses. The trainers described how high interest rates can become a significant pressure for households and therefore stressed that people should aim to improve their houses as they go and budget for the transition. The trainers also highlighted the importance of saving and that people should try to only borrow money if they have enough income to pay back. The project's Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP) has funds available for people to invest in income-generating activities at low interest rates and long repayment periods. The trainers also described that Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs) would also explain their services to the affected people, so that they are better informed about the different types of financial services available to them

The training also aimed to address local perceptions on resettlement policies and related guidelines which has reportedly been confusing for some of the affected people. At the training, some people expressed different understandings and interpretations on the contents of the policies and the procedures implemented by the IRC and other stakeholders. For instance, some people's misunderstanding of the project's compensation policy has made them reluctant to agree to the entitlements provided by the project, instead opting to wait longer to move with the expectation that there will be more compensation if they challenge more. Through the training, the affected people learned that Cambodia does not have a one-size-fits-all approach for compensation and resettlement, but that the project relies on the ADB's Involuntary Resettlement Policy and the Cambodia relevant laws and policies. From this the project derives one compensation and resettlement approach and applies it consistently to all affected people and across all resettlement sites in the railway project. The training explained how compensation was based on the type of structures people had and other set entitlements including allowances for affected households and for vulnerable people.

During the Question and Answer session affected people had an opportunity to express their views and seek clarifications. Questions included further explanations about who is entitled to a plot of land at the resettlement site, the types of allowances provided by the project, timing of relocation and the availability of electricity and water at the Phnom Penh relocation site. The IRC responded to all these questions, including by clarifying the entitlements of affected people and explaining that water and electricity connections are available to households in the relocation site (IRC covers the connection fee while households are responsible to pay a deposit).

Participants also requested the IRC to organize more training activities for them, to explain the sorts of services and support they will get to rebuild their livelihoods when they move to the relocation site. They expressed that it would be good if the project could provide more of these trainings to people as they want to understand the project, particularly their entitlements. They said that this will lead to smooth implementation of the project's resettlement. Participants also suggested a schedule on relocation. Finally, participants were impressed to hear about the income restoration program and were interested in learning the experiences of the relocated communities including challenges, best practice and opportunities to restart and improve their new lives. More consultations with affected people being relocated in Phnom Penh will continue to take place in the coming months.

27 June 2012: Public consultation on income restoration and self help groups held in Phnom Penh

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People relocated as a result of the project in Phnom Penh take part in consultations to learn more about the Expanded Income Restoration Program. Photo by Arnold Marseille.

The Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC), organized on June 27 a joint public consultation on the Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP) for people relocated by the railway project at the Trapeang Anh Chargn resettlement site near Phnom Penh. Around a hundred affected people came to the consultation to ask questions, express their concerns and receive information on the EIRP and Self Help Group to restore their livelihoods.

ADB and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) participated in the consultation. The project's external monitor, ADB's Office of the Special Project Facilitator, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were among the observers.

In 2010, an Income Restoration Program was set up by IRC to help people whose livelihoods were impacted by the railway project. This support is provided in the form of vocational training, project-related employment, and subsistence allowances. In 2011, with a grant of $960,000 from AusAID, the IRP was expanded (EIRP) to provide additional support to households relocating to a resettlement site.

In addition to vocational training, the EIRP provides two funds to further support households that relocate to one of the five resettlement sites: the Community Development Fund offers loans to support livelihood activities and small businesses (like livestock raising); and, the Social Safety Net Fund offers grants to support vulnerable households in cases of crisis or emergency (like a serious illness or accident).

The management of these programs is handled by the relocated people themselves, through the establishment of Self Help Groups (SGs). The SGs are an innovative mechanism to support communities in organizing themselves, creating a platform in which people can discuss and solve issues and come to consensus on decisions which benefit the community. Public information on the programs and SGs was distributed during the consultation.

See the EIRP Poster.

See the EIRP Leaflet.

In Trapeang Anh Chan three SGs have been formed so far, each with over twenty members. During their messages at the public consultation, Resettlement Department Director Im Sethyra, ADB Cambodia Resident Mission Deputy Director Peter Brimble, and AusAid representative Michelle Vizzard, all urged more people to join a Self Help Group and take advantage of the benefits of the EIRP programs.

The questions and requests of people during the consultation made clear that some people have been experiencing difficulties with loans taken at high interest rates from private money lenders. These people have used their new plot of land provided by the project as collateral for such loans although the land title will be legally transferred to them after five consecutive years of occupation. The loans are often used to build larger, better houses than those they had near the railway, on which the compensation provided by the IRC is based. With the money spent, and the lenders pushing for paybacks, the situation for various households has become difficult, and people got understandably emotional during the consultation. ADB and IRC expressed empathy for the situation of people and informed them that your active participation in the EIRP may improve their income which would be able to steadily pay off their existing debt.

The organizer denied rumors as spread among some that (i) ADB would provide US$ 3,000 in cash to each household to solve their money problems and (ii) AusAID would facilitate immigration of households to Australia. "I regret to inform you that ADB will not be able to write off your loans", said Brimble. Ms. Vizzard added that "AusAID will not be able to facilitate your immigratation to Australia". Mr. Brimble and Ms. Vizzard stated however that ADB and AusAID will work together with IRC to discuss alternative solutions that can help affected households.

26 March 2012: ADB statement on replacement cost study affected households railway project

The External Monitoring Organization (EMO) recently issued a report indicating that at the time households were compensated and relocated, the compensation rates provided for housing materials and reconstruction labor were at market prices. The Replacement Cost Study of the EMO's 13th Social Monitoring Report shows that in some sites, such as Phnom Penh, rates were adjusted upward to ensure alignment with prevailing market rates. In addition to monetary compensation, households were able to retain the materials of their original structures and have them transported, free of charge, to the new site.

At every relocation site, households are also provided with individual lots equipped with sanitation facilities, as well as electricity and water supply connections. Households who have had to move—the vast majority of whom never enjoyed ownership of the land they resided on—will be granted full legal title to these new home lots after five years of occupancy.

We share concerns raised by NGOs about the indebtedness of some families following their move, and are committed to ensuring that families who have had to move end up at least as well off, if not better off, than they were before their move. Livelihood programs are being strengthened and expanded to ensure families are provided with income earning opportunities.

02 March 2012: Training on resettlement and grievance procedures completed in all provinces

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Trainees appreciate the clear illustrations of the Grievance Redress Process Poster. Photos by Sokha Ouk & Arnold Marseille.

The training, jointly conducted by project staff and consultants of the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) and ADB, provided a more hands-on follow-up on an earlier training on resettlement policies and principles held in July/August 2011. Supported by specifically designed training materials, trainees were given exercises in the afternoon sessions using information provided in the morning sessions and existing complaints as submitted by affected people.

Download training materials.

The new approach and materials were much appreciated by the participants. "I now really understand the logic behind the procedures and how to implement them", was a remark frequently made by trainees. At the same time most participants regretted that they did not received this kind of training at a much earlier stage of the project, since the majority of affected people have already gone through compensation and resettlement procedures. However, particular local officials saw great benefit in gaining this understanding for future projects.

IRC and ADB are also preparing similar training materials and approaches to prepare authorities and affected people on the effective implementation of the Extended Income Restoration Program by Self-Help Groups in each resettlement location.

13 February 2012: ADB will carefully review recommendations in recent report on railway resettlement

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (13 February 2012) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today released the following statement on findings contained in a recent Bridges Across Borders Cambodia (BABC) report:

ADB is constantly striving to improve project implementation. "On-the-ground" feedback from BABC and other key civil society actors in Cambodia is valuable and this report is a good example of how monitoring by civil society can help improve a project's implementation.

ADB will carefully review the recommendations set forth in the report and is committed to working closely with the Government of Cambodia to address outstanding issues concerning the Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project. ADB is also committed to ensuring that persons resettled under the project are not adversely affected and have opportunities to improve their lives and livelihoods.

On 21 November 2011, ADB's Office of the Special Project Facilitator - which facilitates solutions to concerns brought forward by persons affected by ADB-supported projects - received a complaint about resettlement under the project. On 11 January 2012, the complaint was deemed eligible for the consultation phase of the review and assessment process. This consultation phase aims to help people affected by ADB-assisted projects in finding solutions to their concerns and problems. It is led by ADB's Special Project Facilitator, who reports directly to ADB's President. The review and assessment of the complaint involves one-on-one interviews with persons affected by the project and other major stakeholders, and was just concluded on 10 February 2012. A Review and Assessment Report will be prepared and shared with the major stakeholders for comments.

Some of the concerns raised in the BABC report are still in the process of being addressed, and ADB is fully committed to ensuring full compliance with its safeguards.

As with all resettlement programs, compensation and income restoration are complex and difficult challenges. In an effort to expand income restoration activities for families who have been affected by the project, AusAID provided additional grant financing of AUD 1 million (USD 960,000 equivalent) in November 2011, and discussions about further expansion are ongoing. The External Monitoring Organization working on the project is also finalizing its report on compensation rates, which is expected to be completed later this month, and which will guide any needed rate adjustments.

In Cambodia, where land ownership rights are still in the process of being redefined after private land ownership was abolished by the Khmer Rouge regime, resettlement is an inherently complex process. The vast majority of families resettled under the project had no land titles for the properties they occupied. Notwithstanding the issues that still need to be resolved, many families resettled by the project will have the opportunity to own legal land titles for the first time in their lives, with improved living conditions and better access to water and electricity provided in the new communities.

While resettlement challenges continue to be seriously addressed, significant progress is being made on other railway rehabilitation work. The project is upgrading 610 kilometers of Cambodia's dilapidated rail tracks, and reconstructing an additional 48 kilometers of missing rail link. Part of the rehabilitated rail line is already operational, and by the end of 2013 Cambodia will have a fully functioning national railway again, increasing the competitiveness of the country's economy, and bringing a range of economic benefits to Cambodia and its people.

View additional information about ADB's Accountability Mechanism.

27 January 2012: IRC holds final consultation for undecided affected households in Phnom Penh

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Public consultation for undecided affected households in Phnom Penh organized by the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC). Photo by Arnold Marseille.

The Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) organized on January 27, 2012 a final public consultation in the Toul SangKe pagoda in Phnom Penh for those affected households (AHs) who have yet to decide whether they wish to stay in their current homes or relocate to the Trapaing Anchanh resettlement site. The 70 families are part of a group of 247 AHs along the railway in Phnom Penh who are partially affected by the railway rehabilitation, because only a small part of their house is within the corridor of 3.5 meter which needs to be cleared for the railway. According to the Resettlement Plan these families would therefore receive compensation only for the costs involved to move their home out of the 3.5 meter zone. However, since their homes measure less than 30m2 it has been decided to offer these families the opportunity to relocate.

The IRC had held earlier consultations in November and December 2011 on this to define the number of the AHs who decided to relocate and the AHs who decided to stay. Among the 70 undecided AHs there was a misperception that they had no choice but to relocate and therefore the IRC explained once more that they are free in their decision. The IRC only asked the AHs to make sure they had before the deadline for a decision - February 6, 2012 - thumb-printed their choice, so that it will be clear for the IRC who wishes to relocate and who wishes to stay. The IRC added that those AHs who would not have left a thumb print on February 6 would be considered as having decided to stay.

The IRC had brought a photo poster in Khmer, to the consultation session for people to get an impression of the facilities on and near the resettlement site. The IRC team explained during the meeting that the relocation site will have basic amenities such as access roads, water/electricity connection, latrine/sewerage etc., which the Royal Government of Cambodia will provide to AHs free of charge. These basic amenities will be in place prior to relocation.

AHs will be provided a plot (105 m2) based on lottery selection.

A representative of ADB was present to provide clarification on the compensation policy, explaining that compensation is paid for from the counterpart fund (Cambodian Government fund) and implemented by the Government, by following the standard principle for ADB projects that compensation covers the replacement value, meaning that AHs receive sufficient compensation to replace property they lose because of the project. AHs have homes of different sizes and materials compensations vary per AH. The IRC added that people are not entitled for compensation of the land they live on, because the land does not belong to them but to the state.

Learn more about the compensation policy in the Public Information Booklet produced and distributed to all AHs by the IRC.

Download project communication materials.

The IRC and a representative of AusAid furthermore explained that for those people who decide to relocate there will be support in finding new means of income, funded by the Cambodian and Australian government (for more on AusAid's role visit the Ausaid website).

12 December 2011: Cambodia railway accountability update OSPF

On 21 November 2011 the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Office of the Special Project Facilitator (OSPF) received a complaint about the Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project. OSPF is part of ADB's Accountability Mechanism, facilitating solutions to concerns brought forward by persons affected by ADB-supported projects.

OSPF has registered and acknowledged receipt of the complaint, and is in the process of determining whether the complaint is eligible for the consultation phase. OSPF is consulting with the Government of Cambodia, civil society, the ADB Operations Department responsible for the administration of the project, and other stakeholders.

The consultation phase aims to assist people affected by ADB-assisted projects to find solutions to their problems. It is led by ADB's Special Project Facilitator, who reports directly to ADB's President.

The railway rehabilitation project is upgrading 610 km of Cambodia's dilapidated rail tracks, and reconstructing an additional 48 km of missing rail link. The first 100 km of rail has been open to limited freight traffic since October 2010, and works are ongoing on the rest of the network. The project completion date is September 2013.

View additional information about ADB's Accountability Mechanism.

30 November 2011: IRC reports significant progress on grievance redresses

IRC reported on 30 November 2011 that it has so far responded to 85 letters representing 465 affected households (AHs) of the total 102 letters with grievances (complaints/ requests) received representing 499 AHs. One letter often represents many AHs with multiple grievances and requests. For example, 1 letter from Phnom Penh was thumb printed/ signed by 81 AHs.

The majority of letters are from Phnom Penh, and all letters from Phnom Penh have now been responded to. The main issues that IRC has responded to are those outside the scope of the Resettlement Plan (RP).

Of the total 85 response letters, 37 cases are now closed and represent 331 AHs. Cases closed refer to letters, where all issues addressed in the letter (by all the AHs) have been responded to by IRC, and AHs have accepted IRC's decision, or not responded to the contrary within 30 days after receiving the IRC response. The remaining letters are concerned with issues within the scope of the RP, such as classification of affected houses and provision of land at the relocation site, and IRC is continuing to review them.

Table 1: Letters of Requests/Complaints Received and Responded to (as of 30 Nov 2011)
Provinces Letters Received IRC Responses to Letters Letters Remaining Cases Closed
No of Letters No. HHs No. Letters No. HHs No. Letters No. HHs No. Letters No. HHs
Phnom Penh 77 457 77 457 0 0 30 324
Poipet 28 37 8 8 20 29 7 7
Battambang 4 4 0 0 4 4 0 0
BMeanchey 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0
Total 102 85 85 465 17 34 37 331

27 July 2011: IRC: Electricity security deposit is pre-paid consumption charge

Relocated households in Poipet are required to pay a security deposit for electricity supply (400 baht or US$13) to secure future usage payments. The deposit is fully refundable when supply is discontinued. The security deposit is not in the agreed Resettlement Plan (it did not exist at the time) and therefore the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) decided to review the issue. The IRC now has concluded that all connection expenses are financed in accordance with the principles of the Resettlement Plan (RP) and that the security deposit should be considered a pre-paid consumption charge. Consumption charges are not subject to financing under the resettlement plan.

22 July 2011: 270 families in Poipet request to be allowed at unfinished relocation site

Earlier this month the Government suspended resettlement for affected households with complaints until these have been addressed under the grievance redress procedure and suspended moving affected households to relocation sites where all basic services are not yet in place. Since these decisions, about 270 out of 588 affected households (AHs) in Poipet have signed a petition requesting permission to move immediately even though power supply is not yet available at the Poipet resettlement site. The Government and ADB have agreed to this.

04 July 2011: ADB and IRC MOU signing

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It is not safe for people living closer than 3.5 meters to the railroad to remain in their homes.

IRC and ADB sign MOU to resolve resettlement concerns. Read more.

 

 

 

 

15 February 2011: IRC, ADB, and Ausaid introduce monthly meetings to improve project monitoring

Operations for the rehabilitation of Cambodia's country's national railroad stretching from Sihanoukville in the south, through the capital Phnom Penh and up to the northern border with Thailand are making fast progress and as a result an increasing number of families living too close to the railway are being asked to move to make way for the line upgrade.

Since November 2010 several complaints have been made by affected households (AHs) over compensation rates, the readiness and adequacy of relocation sites and other issues. In order to improve project monitoring and coordination among partners in addressing issues in a timely matter, the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC), ADB and AusAID have decided to hold monthly meetings.

20 September 2013: Livelihood training at the Phnom Penh relocation site

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Three trainers from Cambodia Knits are teaching participants knitting and crocheting skills at the relocation site's community center. Photo: Cambodia Resident Mission/ADB

Under the Expanded Income Restoration Program, training in knitting skills commenced for participants from 20 project affected households at the Phnom Penh relocation site.

IRC has contracted Cambodia Knits, a social enterprise working with communities near Phnom Penh, to conduct training in producing hand knit toys and products. Participants are provided lunch and child care allowances during the four week training.

The training aims to give participants a home-based source of livelihood. Once trained, participants will be provided all required materials by Cambodia Knits for free, and will have the opportunity to produce products that will be bought by Cambodia Knits. Cambodia Knits will regularly visit the community to collect products, pay knitters, and provide support and additional training as required.

23 August 2013: Social Safety Net Fund and Health Insurance

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Chan Rithy used SKY health insurance to seek treatment for a painful fractured knee.

The Project's   Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP) includes social safety net funds (SSNF) which relocated households can use in times of crisis and emergencies. In Phnom Penh, 41 relocated households accessed SSNF for household health insurance.

  Read more.

 
 

11 October 2012: From Thai shoes to mobile veggies: income restoration at work

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Chan Rithy used SKY health insurance to seek treatment for a painful fractured knee.

Heng Sinat (32) and her husband Men Ten (30) used to cross the border in Poipet every day hoping to earn money as shoemakers in Thailand. Hoping, because some days there would be work for them, some days not. As soon as the young couple understood they were entitled for relocation under the railway project, they started thinking of new, better ways to make a living once they would live in their new home. By the time they relocated in May 2011 they decided they wanted to sell vegetables to the families who had, like them, relocated to the Poipet relocation site. There are currently over 330 families living in the Poipet relocation site and there is potential for an additional 200 families to live there.

"We first borrowed 1,000 US$ from a private Microfinance Institute (MFI). We used most of this loan to build a much nicer house than we had near the railway, where we always knew that we would have to leave one day", tells Sinat. "In our old house, which was built from rubber plates, we lived among waste and dirt and there was always a bad smell. Now we have a house with concrete walls! With the remaining money we opened our vegetable shop in front of our new house and bought a motorbike to buy our stock. From the start it went really well, making a profit of $5 per day. As shoemakers we also could earn that on good days, but now we earn this money on average every day of the week!"

The new business of the couple went so well, that they were able to pay back their MFI loan a month earlier, within eleven instead of twelve months. Meanwhile they also had become a member of one of the project's-sponsored Self Help Groups at the relocation site. By Spring this year Sinat and Ten requested a US$500 loan under the Community Development Fund (CDF) and bought a market cart which they could attach to their motorbike. Since then the couple has transformed their shop into a mobile shop driving around all streets of the relocation sites selling vegetables as well as meat Sinat says that they are "very happy to have our own business here at the relocation site. We are independent, do not need to travel to Thailand anymore, and the living conditions here are so much better, especially for our two sons (7 and 1.5 years old)."

Sinat's oldest son goes to a primary school located on the National Road near the entrance to the relocation site. Though that school is only 1.5km away, the Cambodian Government has decided to build a primary school at the relocation site itself, due to the number of children among the newly relocated households. School construction has just begun so in all likeliness the new school will open for enrollment starting next school year (2013-14).

13 August 2012: First self help group receives loans from Community Development Fund

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Sek Saron and his wife Mao Lap hope to use their first ever loan to invest in their grocery business . Photo by Arnold Marseille.

Sek Saron and his wife, Mao Lap, used to sell groceries in front of their small house along the railway in Phnom Penh city. Then, in January 2012, they moved into their new house at the Trapeang Anh Chan resettlement site in Trapang Krosang commune. Although Saron and Lap say living conditions at the resettlement site are better, restarting a business has not been so easy. The couple has five children between the ages of 10 and 30, with the youngest two still in school. Saron works as a mototaxi driver and serves in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, but income from their grocery shop is important to meet the family's living costs.

The first good news is that a new market will soon open in the center of the growing Trapang Krosang commune. The second is that the Self Help Group Saron and Leap joined a few months ago - part of the Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia project's Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP) - is the first in which members have completed the conditions to receive loans. These conditions include having an established Self Help Group with a strong management structure, including a head and a treasurer, and having received training on how to run the group and manage finances.

Saron has put together the required business plan to receive $450 (all figures in US dollars) from the EIRP's Community Development Fund (CDF), which provides low interest and long repayment loans to help relocated people improve their incomes. He says his ambition is to eventually buy two stalls at the new market, costing $400 each. The loan Saron received will pay off the unpaid balance on the first stall he bought and buy the first stock of groceries to sell. Saron estimates that he will need to invest $4,500 to completely fulfill his ambitions, but he prefers to start small. "This is the first time in my life that I borrow money and I am quite nervous about it," he said. "I do not want to have a large debt."

Starting capital for the CDF is provided by the project, based on an average of $450 per member. The amounts received by individual households can be smaller or larger depending on the business plan. Saron intends to pay back his debt in 10 months, with an additional 1% in interest per month. The interest will help the CDF account grow, a primary condition for the future sustainability of the fund. Another 23 members of Saron's Self Help Group have also received low-interest loans to help grow their businesses.

There are two more Self Help Groups at the Trapeang Anh Chan resettlement site, and currently, 70 out of the 99 affected households that have been resettled at Trapeang Anh Chan have a family member represented in a Self Help Group. Self Help Groups operate on other railway relocation sites throughout Cambodia. Soon, they will be following Saron's experience.

The Self Help Groups are themselves responsible for the implementation of the three programs under the Expanded Income Restoration Program, which includes the CDFs, vocational training and a Social Safety Net Fund, which offers grants to support vulnerable households in cases of crisis or emergency. Self Help Groups are also an innovative mechanism to support communities in organizing themselves, creating a platform in which people can discuss and solve issues and come to consensus on decisions which benefit the community.

27 June 2012: Public consultation on income restoration and self help groups held in Phnom Penh

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Sek Saron and his wife Mao Lap hope to use their first ever loan to invest in their grocery business. Photo by Arnold Marseille.

The Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC), organized on June 27 a joint public consultation on the Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP) for people relocated by the railway project at the Trapeang Anh Chargn resettlement site near Phnom Penh. Around a hundred affected people came to the consultation to ask questions, express their concerns and receive information on the EIRP and Self Help Group to restore their livelihoods.

ADB and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) participated in the consultation. The project's external monitor, ADB's Office of the Special Project Facilitator, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were among the observers.

In 2010, an Income Restoration Program was set up by IRC to help people whose livelihoods were impacted by the railway project. This support is provided in the form of vocational training, project-related employment, and subsistence allowances. In 2011, with a grant of $960,000 from AusAID, the IRP was expanded (EIRP) to provide additional support to households relocating to a resettlement site.

In addition to vocational training, the EIRP provides two funds to further support households that relocate to one of the five resettlement sites: the Community Development Fund offers loans to support livelihood activities and small businesses (like livestock raising); and, the Social Safety Net Fund offers grants to support vulnerable households in cases of crisis or emergency (like a serious illness or accident).

The management of these programs is handled by the relocated people themselves, through the establishment of Self Help Groups (SGs). The SGs are an innovative mechanism to support communities in organizing themselves, creating a platform in which people can discuss and solve issues and come to consensus on decisions which benefit the community. Public information on the programs and SGs was distributed during the consultation.

See the EIRP Poster.

See the EIRP Leaflet.

In Trapeang Anh Chan three SGs have been formed so far, each with over twenty members. During their messages at the public consultation, Resettlement Department Director Im Sethyra, ADB Cambodia Resident Mission Deputy Director Peter Brimble, and AusAid representative Michelle Vizzard, all urged more people to join a Self Help Group and take advantage of the benefits of the EIRP programs.

The questions and requests of people during the consultation made clear that some people have been experiencing difficulties with loans taken at high interest rates from private money lenders. These people have used their new plot of land provided by the project as collateral for such loans although the land title will be legally transferred to them after five consecutive years of occupation. The loans are often used to build larger, better houses than those they had near the railway, on which the compensation provided by the IRC is based. With the money spent, and the lenders pushing for paybacks, the situation for various households has become difficult, and people got understandably emotional during the consultation. ADB and IRC expressed empathy for the situation of people and informed them that your active participation in the EIRP may improve their income which would be able to steadily pay off their existing debt.

The organizer denied rumors as spread among some that (i) ADB would provide US$ 3,000 in cash to each household to solve their money problems and (ii) AusAID would facilitate immigration of households to Australia. "I regret to inform you that ADB will not be able to write off your loans", said Brimble. Ms. Vizzard added that "AusAID will not be able to facilitate your immigratation to Australia". Mr. Brimble and Ms. Vizzard stated however that ADB and AusAID will work together with IRC to discuss alternative solutions that can help affected households.

15 September 2011: IRC provides AHs free land for pig raising

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Hog raising at the Sihanoukville relocation site

The Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) provided five affected households (AHs) at the Sihanoukville relocation site with one hundred five sq.m. 105 m2 each to use for pig raising. The five families can use the land at no charge on a 2-year renewable contract.

Three of the five AHs had already started in May this year raising pigs and managed to improve their incomes considerably, making a profit of US$ 125 on each pig sold. However, the size of the plot each AH has been given at the relocation site is too small for the pig raising to continue to be successful on a longer term, and once too many pigs are living on the small plots there will also be health and sanitation concerns. The AHs therefore had requested the government to provide them with more land which now has been arranged by the IRC.

20 February-7 March 2014: Turn-over of Community Centers in Poipet, Battambang, Pursat, and Sihanoukville Relocation Sites

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Representatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia's Inter-ministerial Committee on Resettlement (IRC), the Australian Aid Program, and the Asian Development Bank witnessed the handing over of Community Centers in Poipet, Battambang, Pursat, and Sihanoukville relocation sites to resettled communities from 20 February to 7 March 2014. Financed by the Australian Aid Program, all community centers are provided on land donated by the IRC.

19 December 2013: Infrastructure Improvements at the Five Relocation Sites

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Deep well in Sihanoukville. Photo: Australian Embassy

As part of the process led by the Office of the Special Project Facilitator (OSPF), small infrastructure works at relocation sites are being undertaken through a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Aid Program. Much of these works has been completed and includes: (i) construction of an overhead water tank and fencing of the surface water source in Batambang, (ii) repairs to the access road and construction of a deep well for Sihanoukville, (iii) grading the access road, fencing the borrow pit beside the school, and conducting a solid waste management campaign in Poipet, (iv) provision of drain well, roof and concrete patio for the water system in Pursat, and (v) a solid waste management campaign in Phnom Penh.

4 December 2013: Construction of Community Centers in Battambang, Poipet, Pursat, and Sihanoukville Relocation Sites

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Community consultations for the Battambang community center. Photo: Australian Embassy

Following the completion of the community center in Phnom Penh, the community centers in Battambang, Poipet, Pursat, and Sihanoukville are all underway. Financed by the Australian Aid Program, all community centers are built on land donated by the IRC. The land for the community centers ranges from 68 to 385 square meters. The construction of the four centers is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

 

 

26 November 2013: Completion of Livelihood Training at the Phnom Penh Relocation Site

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Crocheted products produced by trainees. Photo: Australian Embassy

Under the Expanded Income Restoration Program, Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) engaged Cambodia Knits (CK), a social enterprise to provide training in knitting and crochet skills for relocated households in Phnom Penh from 20 September to 26 October 2013. The training included allowances for lunch and childcare. Eighteen affected persons started the training and 10 completed the training with good attendance, including two persons with a disability. CK will continue to visit the site at least twice a month until 2014 to support producers and provide follow-up training and advice. Producers have decided to go to the CK office to collect materials and payments for finished products which pass quality control. Based on how much a producer knits and crochets, participants can expect to make $60-120 per month.

29 August 2013: New Community Center Inaugurated at Phnom Penh Relocation Site

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Crocheted products produced by trainees. Photo: Australian EmbassyUndersecretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance H.E. Nhean Leng cut the ribbon hung across the gates of the newly completed Trapeang Anchanh community center constructed under the GMS Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project.

On August 29, Trapeang Anchanh resettled families celebrated the inauguration of a community center constructed under the GMS Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project. Government officials, local leaders, and representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) opened the newly-completed center, reminding relocated households of their ownership of the center.

Financed by AusAID, the inaugurated community center located in the suburb of the capital is one of five community centers being built at relocation sites for activities and, including the Project's expanded income restoration program (EIRP).

The center, built on land donated by the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee, has a large open space for group activities and a locked room to store training materials and financial records.

Community members interviewed at the inauguration expressed a high level of satisfaction with the center, which they helped design through participatory workshops and 3D modeling. They said they are committed to making use of it as a place for relocated families to meet, holding trainings, and organize group meetings.

The other four community centers are located in Battambang, Pursat, Poipet and Sihanouk Ville relocation sites. The construction of the centers is underway and is expected to be completed within the year.

July 2013: Community Center Construction in Phnom Penh

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Residents at Trapeang Anh Chan relocation site participate in a process to design a community center for workshops, training and events.

Construction of a new community center at the Trapeang Anh Chan relocation site commenced 15 May 2013, with some affected persons employed in the building work. In response to similar requests at other sites, plots of land have been provided by the Government for community centers at each of the relocation sites. AusAID is funding the design and construction of the centers using a participatory approach, as part of their efforts to improve resettlement related to the Project.

  Read more.

 

1 April 2013: Poipet - from resettlement site to bright new village

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While some people still have modest houses, most families have built solid concrete constructions in bright colours. Photo: Arnold Marseille

What comes to mind at the mention of the word "resettlement site?" For many Cambodians and foreigners alike, the words conjure the picture of makeshift wooden barracks in the middle of nowhere with no nearby facilities whatsoever. While such sites do exist, many others look more like any new housing estate, expanding village or city suburb of the country. It simply takes a year or two for these new, resettled neighborhoods to come alive.

The railway project resettlement site in Poipet is the perfect example of this slow but steady metamorphosis from resettlement site to bright new village. The largest site of the project, it houses 328 families affected by the railway project, or more than 1,000 inhabitants – an above-average village in the Cambodian context.

Only a handful of houses match the gloomy picture of a resettlement site. The vast majority, however, are solid concrete one, two, or even three storey constructions, painted in bright colors, decorated with ornaments and small gardens with flowers, plants, trees or vegetables. With support of the Community Development Fund, many families have turned their ground floors into a shop or workplace, and most daily necessities can be bought within the boundaries of the newly created village.

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Multiple Shops and workplaces have opened at the site since 2011. Photo: Arnold Marseille

Naturally, there is still work to be done. Roads inside the Poipet site suffered badly from floods during the past monsoon season, and while construction of a brand new primary school is almost completed, it will only open its doors at the start of the new school year this coming September.

This is not to say that children have not been able to go to school since their relocation. A large public primary school – Psar Kandal School – is less than a kilometer from the entrance road off National Road No.6. This school, however, covers a wide area of villages and suburbs east of Poipet city, causing various classes to be overcrowded. This is the main reason the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) arranged with the Ministry of Education to establish a school within the site itself.

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The new primary school on the site. Photo: Arnold Marseille

There is also a private school (ICS) a few hundred meters from the site, to which about 10 relocated families can now afford to send their children. The boldest initiative is within the site self. A year ago, one of the affected households decided to rent their ground floor to a new private school, the Yang Arm School. It is a small school, with two teachers instructing 25 children in kindergarten and Grade 1. The children learn English in the morning and Khmer in the afternoon. Their parents are very happy with this alternative for their youngest children, and find the fee – US$5 per month for one child, 5,000 Riel (US$1.25) less for any additional child of the same family – affordable as a temporary solution. Temporary, since most parents will send their children to the new public primary school on the site next school year, says Mr. Porn San, one of the leaders of the Self Help Groups established at the site. "Of course, because the public school will be safe and near for our children and free of charge," he said.

19 March 2013: Further steps to improve resettlement monitoring & implementation

In September 2012, ADB contracted a social safeguards monitoring specialist to undertake a 10-day mission to Cambodia to assess internal and external monitoring of resettlement related to the GMS: Rehabilitation of the Railway in Cambodia Project.

The consultant was asked to prepare a report providing recommendations for improving: (i) the monitoring system in both the short- and long-term; (ii) systems and procedures for monitoring livelihood and income restoration programs; and (iii) methodological approaches for undertaking comparisons of pre- and post-project living situations in the long-term.

The final report, which was submitted to ADB in January 2013, offers some useful recommendations that ADB is discussing with the Government of Cambodia. These include: eliminating resettlers’ risk of losing their house-plots; multiplying resettlers’ opportunities to access job opportunities and other options for income recovery; resolving accumulated economic legacy issues; and restructuring the organization of the independent monitoring and follow-up process.

The report is one element in a series of efforts designed to improve the resettlement of households affected by the project. Other initiatives to improve their lives and livelihoods include a social safety net fund offering grants to resettled vulnerable households in cases of crisis or emergency, and an expanded income restoration program allowing resettled households to access low-interest loans and grants. Self-Help Groups have also been established to support small-scale community development projects that can improve facilities and services available to resettled households.

Although the report, which was commissioned as an internal working paper, contains numerous references to internal information and communications falling under ADB’s Public Communications Policy’s exceptions to disclosure, ADB believes that sharing its recommendations will benefit the broader public interest and promote collaborative efforts in improving the lives and livelihoods of resettled households.

View the recommendations:

22 February 2013: Self Help Group Pursat takes over water management control

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The Pursat self help group was happy to take over its own water management. Photo: Arnold Marseille

The Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) has handed over management responsibilities of the drinking water facility to the 26 members of the Self Help Group (SG) at the Pursat railway resettlement site. This follows a request from SG members who wanted to better oversee fee collection among members and promote good maintenance of the facility . "I am very happy that the water management is now a responsibility of our own community,", says Mr. Kong Saly, the SG leader in Pursat. "We have already set up a water management committee to control maintenance of the pumping machine, water pipes and the water meter, and to manage fee collection among our members. The fee is only 1,500Riel/m3 and fully used for maintenance and administrative costs."

Ms. Mom Chearng, chief of the Community Development Fund committee of the Pursat SG, adds: "We were at first surprised to learn that the water management would be handed over to us. I have in my life never experienced to be given responsibility over this kind of activities. Now I am one of the water management committee members and can help the SG to record and collect the fee. I am more than happy to do this work as a volunteer for the benefit of the community, because it is very important for us to have our own water management. I think there are not many people in this area who have own access to this kind of service, except our community. So I am more than happy to live in this relocation site, in which we have water, electricity and other services all in place."

The SG in Pursat started saving money for community development in July 2011 and has since saved 3,665,500 Riel (about US$915). Under the Community Development Fund of the Expanded Income Restoration Program (EIRP), the SG has provided loans to 23 of its members, for a total of US$8,190. Members used their loans – on average US$400 per member – to improve their livelihood activities, such as starting businesses like a grocery shop, home carpentry, or motorbike taxi service. Eight member households received grants from the Social Safety Net Fund to cover medical bills for illness or child birth. Members also attended the vocational training program of the EIRP, learning skills for profitable raising of pigs or poultry and growing mushrooms.

  Read the latest update on the progress of the entire EIRP program of the Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project.

21 January 2013: Health Insurance made available for relocated households

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Ms. Ouk Bunna Sothy and Mr. Sek Piseth welcome the SKY health insurance. Photo: Arnold Marseille

AusAID has made an agreement with the non-profit health insurance agency SKY to offer households relocated by the railway project in Phnom Penh coverage of medical bills at reduced premium rates. This is part of the services provided by SKY elsewhere in Phnom Penh. As part of SKY, families are expected to pay the monthly premium fees themselves. However as part of services provided by the railway project, families can choose to cover this through the Social Safety Net Funds made available for each Self Help Group. Fees range from 12,000 Riel (US$3) per month for a single person household to maximum 22,000 Riel (US$5.50) per month for a family of eight or more. Project staff has been providing onsite support to families to complete the registration forms.

Mr. Sek Piseth (60) and his wife Ms. Ouk Bunna Sothy (51) live with their 16-year old son on the Trapeang Anh Chan resettlement site in Trapang Krosang commune. They have just registered for the SKY Health Insurance. "All members of our Self Help Group have decided to join the program using the Social Safety Net Fund", tells Piseth. "We think it is of great benefit because whenever we go to the hospital we have to pay a lot of money for treatment". Sothy nods her head firmly in agreement. "We recently had to go to the Calamette Hospital in Phnom Penh and had to pay US$18 per day just to stay! In addition we had to pay US$50 for treatment and blood samples. In total we spent almost US$ 100!"

The SKY insurance will cover registered households until the end of the SKY program in Cambodia in September 2013. SKY insurance had been accessed by some of the relocated families when they were living along the railway tracks. This initiative allows them to access once again these low-cost services. Medical coverage is expected to assist households in the crucial transition period of relocation, so that the rebuilding of their lives in the new site is not financially affected by health shocks. AusAid and ADB will draw lessons from these experiences and explore possibilities to continue these types of services for relocated households under existing health initiatives in Cambodia such as the ID Poor program. Those programs are already available for many poor Cambodian families, including for relocated households in other parts of the railway, like in Pursat.

02 March 2012: Training on resettlement and grievance procedures completed in all provinces

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Trainees appreciate the clear illustrations of the Grievance Redress Process Poster. Photos by Sokha Ouk & Arnold Marseille

The training, jointly conducted by project staff and consultants of the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) and ADB, provided a more hands-on follow-up on an earlier training on resettlement policies and principles held in July/August 2011. Supported by specifically designed training materials, trainees were given exercises in the afternoon sessions using information provided in the morning sessions and existing complaints as submitted by affected people.

Download training materials.

The new approach and materials were much appreciated by the participants. "I now really understand the logic behind the procedures and how to implement them", was a remark frequently made by trainees. At the same time most participants regretted that they did not received this kind of training at a much earlier stage of the project, since the majority of affected people have already gone through compensation and resettlement procedures. However, particular local officials saw great benefit in gaining this understanding for future projects.

IRC and ADB are also preparing similar training materials and approaches to prepare authorities and affected people on the effective implementation of the Extended Income Restoration Program by Self-Help Groups in each resettlement location.

08 February 2012: Photo Essay and Impact Story releases

Moving on to Better Lives in Cambodia: View Photo Essay.
Lives in Transition: View Impact Story.

27 January 2012: IRC holds final consultation for undecided affected households in Phnom Penh

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Public consultation for undecided affected households in Phnom Penh organized by the Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC). Photo by Arnold Marseille

The Inter-ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC) organized on January 27, 2012 a final public consultation in the Toul SangKe pagoda in Phnom Penh for those affected households (AHs) who have yet to decide whether they wish to stay in their current homes or relocate to the Trapaing Anchanh resettlement site. The 70 families are part of a group of 247 AHs along the railway in Phnom Penh who are partially affected by the railway rehabilitation, because only a small part of their house is within the corridor of 3.5 meter which needs to be cleared for the railway. According to the Resettlement Plan these families would therefore receive compensation only for the costs involved to move their home out of the 3.5 meter zone. However, since their homes measure less than 30m2 it has been decided to offer these families the opportunity to relocate.

The IRC had held earlier consultations in November and December 2011 on this to define the number of the AHs who decided to relocate and the AHs who decided to stay. Among the 70 undecided AHs there was a misperception that they had no choice but to relocate and therefore the IRC explained once more that they are free in their decision. The IRC only asked the AHs to make sure they had before the deadline for a decision - February 6, 2012 - thumb-printed their choice, so that it will be clear for the IRC who wishes to relocate and who wishes to stay. The IRC added that those AHs who would not have left a thumb print on February 6 would be considered as having decided to stay.

The IRC had brought a photo poster in Khmer, to the consultation session for people to get an impression of the facilities on and near the resettlement site. The IRC team explained during the meeting that the relocation site will have basic amenities such as access roads, water/electricity connection, latrine/sewerage etc., which the Royal Government of Cambodia will provide to AHs free of charge. These basic amenities will be in place prior to relocation.

AHs will be provided a plot (105 m2) based on lottery selection.

A representative of ADB was present to provide clarification on the compensation policy, explaining that compensation is paid for from the counterpart fund (Cambodian Government fund) and implemented by the Government, by following the standard principle for ADB projects that compensation covers the replacement value, meaning that AHs receive sufficient compensation to replace property they lose because of the project. AHs have homes of different sizes and materials compensations vary per AH. The IRC added that people are not entitled for compensation of the land they live on, because the land does not belong to them but to the state.

Learn more about the compensation policy in the Public Information Booklet produced and distributed to all AHs by the IRC.

Download project communication materials.

The IRC and a representative of AusAid furthermore explained that for those people who decide to relocate there will be support in finding new means of income, funded by the Cambodian and Australian government (for more on AusAid's role visit the Ausaid website).

15 May 2013: Cargo trains run from Sihanoukville Port every second day

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A cargo train runs to the Sihanoukville Port of Preah Sihanouk province. The train service will reduce transport costs and improve investment competitiveness. Photo credit: Svay Vireak

Cargo trains operated by Toll Royal Railway are now running every second day from the Sihanoukville Port, in Preah Sihanouk province, to the Touk Meas district, in Kampot province, and to Phnom Penh, transporting coal and fuel imported from Indonesia and Singapore. Container services, running to and from the port, are expected to begin when the freight handling facility at the Cambodia CWT Dry Port is ready.

The Toll Royal Railway initially started its operations in October 2010 by transporting cement from Kampot to Phnom Penh. Cargo services have been expanded following the December 2012 inauguration of the commercial rail, which runs from Phnom Penh southward to Sihanoukville Port using the 256 kilometer rehabilitated Southern Line.

The train service between the oil terminal in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh takes fuel trucks off the roads, removing dangerous cargo from the highway and greatly improving road safety.

Overall, the train services reduce transport costs and therefore improve the country’s competitiveness.

03 April 2013: Video

CNN reports on how, after decades of disuse, the Cambodian government looks to revitalize and modernize its national railway system to create an "iron" silk road. Watch the video.

28 December 2012: First commercial train service reaches port of Sihanoukville

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Train transport to and from the Port of Sihanoukville will tremendously contribute to the range of benefits the new railway will bring to Cambodia. Photo: Sothea Ros

The 256 kilometer "Southern Line" of the modern railway system in Cambodia, running from the capital city of Phnom Penh southward to Sihanoukville Port, commenced commercial rail operations today. ADB welcomes this first commercial train service to the Port of Sihanoukville which marks a significant development towards the completion of the long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad – a contiguous "Iron Silk Road" stretching from Singapore to Scotland.

Train transport to and from the Port of Sihanoukville will tremendously contribute to the range of benefits the new railway will bring to Cambodia:

  • It will lower the cost of staple commodities that poor Cambodian families depend on.
  • It will improve road safety by taking dangerous cargoes, such as the fuel trucks driving between the oil terminal in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, off the roads.
  • It will reduce bulky and heavy road traffic, bringing down congestion and greatly lowering road maintenance costs.
  • It will drastically reduce CO2 emissions and other air pollution as railways are much more fuel efficient than road traffic.

And it will position Cambodia as a true sub-regional transportation hub, reducing the times and costs of transporting a range of products and creating new jobs and business opportunities in agro-processing, manufacturing and logistic services.

In sum, the modern Cambodian railway will strengthen the business environment, create jobs and incomes, improve road safety, and stimulate local and foreign investment. These all contribute to ADB’s objectives of reducing poverty and stimulating inclusive growth in close partnership with Cambodia.

22 August 2012: Toll resumes railway operations between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas

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The 500-meter long train crossing National Road Nr.3 to Kampot. Photo: Arnold Marseille

A five hundred meters long cargo train is lined up at Phnom Penh Station for departure to Touk Meas in Kampot province. Its 26 wagons are empty now, but will return on Friday full with cement of the K-cement company. "Each wagon takes two heavy trucks of the road", tells David Kerr, CEO of Toll Royal Railways, which has been granted the business operations on the rehabilitated railway network of Cambodia. "The roads will soon be so much safer, and the reduction in road maintenance costs for the Cambodian government will be tenfold."

Toll initially started its operations in October 2010, but suspended its weekly trains to Touk Meas in April this year, awaiting further progress on the railway constructions towards Kampot city and further down south to the port of Sihanoukville. The track to Kampot is ready now and once final works on the viaduct of Kampot have been completed by the end of September, Toll will also bring down cement from Touk Meas to Kampot city.

Kerr expects that trains can reach the port in Sihanoukville by this Christmas and commence freight transport from and to the port in the first quarter of 2013. "From Kampot we will also start with transport of salt. And once we start operations from the port things will really kick off with container transport, export of cement, timber, and import of coals for example", says Kerr.

The 118 km to Touk Meas currently takes a little over four hours, but will be reduced to about 2,5 hours once construction works on road crossings and bridges have been fully completed. The first 15 km from Phnom Penh station to the north-south junction at Samrong Estate the train does not go faster than 20-25 km per hour, with many houses, shops and market stalls situated as close as 3.5 meters from the track. The locomotive horn roars almost non-stop to alert people walking along and over the track and to bring the heavy traffic over each crossing to a stand-still. At the busier crossings are barriers and railway staff to manage the traffic. It may take some time for people to get used to the trains running again.

30 January 2012: Railway track reaches Poipet

cambodia railway
The missing link nearly completed. Photo by Sothea Ros

The 42 kilometers of railway reconstruction between Serei Saophoan and Poipet is nearly in completion. Outstanding works are the six kilometers rail line linking Poipet and the border of Thailand which has just been started. This stretch of the 642 kilometer railway restored under the Cambodia Railway Rehabilitation Project is known as the missing link. Its completion will mean an historic moment in Cambodia's railway history, creating for the first time a train connection with Thailand in Northeast Cambodia.

 

22 October 2010: Official launching

Official launch of the reopening of the Cambodian Railway. Read more.

15 December 2009: Second loan approval

Second Loan approval, Rehabilitation of the Cambodia Railway Project

13 December 2009: First loan approval

First Loan approval, Rehabilitation of the Cambodia Railway Project