Paving the Streets
of Phnom Penh

21 March 2008

There is little organization or planning to life here in Phnom Penh. Things just happen: the electricity goes off, you're invited to a wedding tomorrow, the police block off a road--or the municipality decides to pave a street. For the latter there is no warning, no notice, no accommodation. You walk out of your house and suddenly find an 18-inch drop from your property to what used to be the dirt street that was hauled away--and probably sold at great profit to some friend of the government. In the next three to six months the street will be paved.  Click here for later pictures.

Street in front of the deaf office

Two weeks ago the dirt street in front of the deaf office disappeared, scraped up by bulldozers and deposited in trucks that hauled it away. Two days ago, truckloads of crushed stone were dumped along the street, almost completely blocking anything bigger than a motorcycle from getting through. Then today a neighbor had a wedding and the obligatory tent went up to block off the rest of the street. Luckily these people didn't have much money so the tent only lasted half a day.

Street in front of the ecumenical center

I probably shouldn't be complaining on Good Friday, but this afternoon at 4:20 PM the manager of the ecumenical center where we were to hold our 5:30 PM Good Friday service called to say that the city had started paving the street in front of the center, blocking its only entrance. He had rushed out and asked them to pave just half the street so that we could still get in for the service. Luckily they only got about 3/4 of the street finished before it got dark and we could still have our service.  Of course there is never any notice or warning that the city is going to do something like blocking a street.

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