Phnom Penh gov't to beautify sidewalks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Workers lay block paving on a sidewalk on the capital’s Norodom Boulevard last year. Pha Lina

The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall is set to beautify public sidewalks along Russian Federation Boulevard, including relaying tactile paving to support the mobilisation of the disabled.

The work will start from the corner of Preah Norodom Boulevard all the way towards the international airport, said a statement from Phnom Penh municipal governor Khoung Sreng which was obtained by The Post on Sunday.

In the statement, Sreng called on residents, business owners, and public and private organisations to cooperate with the authority by immediately removing any objects, debris and structures along the sidewalks so as not to obstruct the construction.

He also asked them to be patient during the beautification project and said that the relaying of tactile paving might affect the entrance to their houses, shops or offices.

“The project to repair and improve public sidewalks and pavements along Russian Federation Boulevard will make Phnom Penh more beautiful. The project will also help the disabled to move freely and safely along the boulevard,” it read.

Action on Disability and Development (ADD) country director Srey Vanthon applauded the municipal government’s initiative. He expected that all relevant parties who live and set up businesses along Russian Federation Boulevard would cooperate with the authority in executing the project.

Vanthon noted that sidewalks along the capital’s roads are “too small”, with street vendors and motorists often illegally occupying public spaces to carry out their commercial activities and for parking.

He said the city’s pavements are, more often than not, “inaccessible to the disabled, especially those on wheelchairs and visually impaired persons”.

However, he said just repairing sidewalks will not be sufficient. There needs to be spreading of public awareness to understand the importance of sidewalks and to stop using public areas as “street markets and parking spaces”.

On January 22, the municipal hall gave one month’s notice for businesses to stop street and public sidewalk violations or they will face closure, suspension and legal action.

Construction owners or managers are banned from blocking more than one-third of the road, or keep their construction materials – such as iron bars, sand, stone or gravel – on the street, while those arranging goods for sale or display – like on motorbikes, cars or tents – must not exceed one-third of the sidewalk.

From July 1 onwards, Phnom Penh authorities will also prohibit all types of festivals and wedding halls on streets, requiring people to find a suitable place to hold such events in private locations.

However, the municipal hall’s notice states that the sidewalk can still be used for some activities such as performing traffic activities on foot or performing cultural activities, sports, exhibitions and other celebrations, but permission must first be sought from the authorities.