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Australia’s Toll Group Suspends Operations on Railway Project

In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010, a service train operated by Toll Royal Cambodia passes over a river, just south of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. An Australian joint venture has a 30-year lease to upgrade and operate Cambodia's railway, p

Families that were displaced by a major railway project are facing uncertain futures, after an Australian company announced it was suspending operations on the multimillion-dollar project.

The Toll Group will suspend operations in April, according to media reports and the Asian Development Bank, which is funding the rehabilitation with the Australian government.

The future of project is unclear, and many families have already been moved from proposed railway improvement sites.

Some have been put further into debt for borrowing money to build new homes, Eang Vuthy, an official with the housing advocacy group Bridges Across Borders, told VOA Khmer.

The group does not want Toll to withdraw from the project, he said. “We have contacted Toll many times asking them to engage in dialogues with residents to find a solution.”

Some responsibility must now fall to the Asian Development Bank to help people displaced by the project, he said. “If the burden falls only on the government, we know for sure the issue won’t be resolved, and it will ultimately fall on the affected persons.”

The ADB said in a statement it is working to ensure better living conditions for the displaced.

“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,” it said.