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Cambodia tries to bring order to its address books

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Everyone will soon have an easier time finding addresses in Cambodia’s capital. For the first time since the civil war in the 1970s, the government of the city announced that it would distribute standardized street-number plates to homeowners starting this month. According to Moeung Sophan, the deputy director of the Department of Public Works and Transport for the Municipality of Phnom Penh, until now it had been up to the city’s residents themselves to display addresses on their properties – which resulted in a lack of consecutive order, odd and even numbers switching sides of the street, and sometimes more than one property on the same street sharing the same address.

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“Some houses still have the numbers from before the war,” Mr. Sophan said. “We will take this occasion to correct house numbers.”

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The city will also erect new street signs at intersections, made from a reflective material that will make them visible at night, according to Sophan. The plates will be purchased from a Chinese company.

The project is being undertaken in preparation for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, which Cambodia’s capital will host in 2012. The beautification of the city also includes the painting of buildings along major streets.