ADB admits mistakes over controversial railway project in Cambodia

By Lean Alfred Santos 07 February 2014
A railway track in Cambodia. The Asian Development Bank has come forward with its shortcomings following a controversial railway rehabilitation project in the country. Photo by: Damien / CC BY

In a rare admission, the Asian Development Bank has surprisingly acknowledged its own shortcomings following a controversial railway rehabilitation project in Cambodia that sparked complaints from thousands of displaced local residents affected by forced resettlements, insufficient compensations and neglect of their human rights.

The concerns were confirmed by the Compliance Review Panel, the bank’s internal review team, asserting that the program, which started in 2006, was non-compliant with the standard operational procedures and safeguards in its development projects, which include resettlement and public communication policies — something considered “damning” by a local NGO.

“I believe ADB put this statement out [a week before] in a deceptive effort to try to ‘manage’ the story before the CRP’s extremely damning report is released,” David Pred, managing associate of Phnom Penh-based Inclusive Development International, told Devex, adding that the bank should undergo a “mind shift” on how it treats people affected by its development projects.

The findings of the CRP report published on Friday outline the bank’s mishaps, particularly in managing the damaging effect of the project suffered by the local residents in Cambodia.