Preah Sihanouk province – Governor Kuoch Chamroeun has approved demolition orders for two recently-constructed buildings in Sihanoukville after they were deemed unsafe by officials.
On Monday, Mr Chamroeun held a meeting with all parties involved, including the building and land owners, to discuss the decision to have the buildings in Buon and Pi communes demolished.
Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearom yesterday said Mr Chamroeun, who was recently appointed, is aiming to take a stronger stance against poorly constructed buildings than his predecessor.
“We are not reluctant to enforce measures […] the buildings must be immediately demolished,” Mr Phearom said. “The governor has already instructed the owners of the buildings and the lands to demolish the buildings themselves.”
Mr Chamroeun was appointed after former Governor Yun Min resigned following the collapse of a building in Sihanoukville that killed 28 construction workers in June.
According to a press release issued after the Monday meeting, the owners of the buildings are Chinese nationals Zhu Fubing, of the building in Buon commune, and Ma Shundi, of the building in Pi commune.
It said the decision to demolish the buildings came after inspectors ruled the buildings were unsafe for having weak foundations, failing to meet technical standards and for developing cracks.
“Expert officials from the Land Management Ministry conducted studies and evaluated the buildings,” it said. “They ruled the buildings were unsafe […] and these two buildings cannot be used.”
“He [Mr Chamroeun] asked the owners of both buildings to implement the recommendation of the expert officials because the buildings are a risk to people working in the buildings,” it added.
It noted that although the land owners have agreed to demolish the buildings, they are requesting permits to allow reconstruction.
“In the meeting, the building owners agreed with the recommendation,” it said. “Both building owners agreed to demolish, while the land owners agreed to not charge rent to the building owners during demolition and reconstruction.”
The buildings were scrutinised after a provincial land management department report suggested that the Buon commune building was unsafe. According to the report, the building in Buon commune did not pass inspections last week.
It said employees working in the building complained after seeing cracks in the building, which had also sunk.
“After the inspection, our working group found that this building does not have legal permits,” the report noted. “On August 8, this building sunk up to 80 millimetres and on August 9, the eastern part of the building sunk nine millimetres, while the western side dropped 28 millimetres. The building continues to sink.”
“The ground floor walls had cracks in many places and they continue to crack,” it added. “This building was constructed without technical standards.”
“The building must be demolished because it is unsafe and it does not meet technical standards,” it said. “People who live around this building must be cautious and leave their homes immediately.”
As of yesterday, the building in Buon commune was shuttered and no tenants were present. Police officers and security guards were preventing people from going in and out of the building.
In Chan, a security guard, said the building was quiet yesterday after tenants were told to vacate their shop lots last week.
“As of today, no one has gone inside the building,” Mr Chan said. “My boss told me to stop people from going inside the building.”
Oeun Bunna, a resident, said Mr Chamroeun’s decision to demolish unsafe buildings should serve as an example.
“When I walk in front of this building I feel scared,” he said. “I think it’s a good measure from the provincial governor and it should serve as an example to other construction site owners. I think there are other poorly constructed buildings.”
“I don’t want to see another deadly building collapse,” Mr Bunna added. “Seeing images of dead victims from the collapse of the seven-storey building in June is enough for Sihanoukville residents.”