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Groups want stupas built to honour Kep building collapse victims

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Excavators remove rubble to find victims of the Kep collapse. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Two labour rights groups are petitioning the government to build memorial stupas in Preah Sihanouk and Kep provinces to honour the victims of two deadly building collapses.

On Friday, a seven-storey building under construction collapsed in Kep city, killing 36 people, including children, and injuring 23 others. In June an under construction, seven-storey building also collapsed in Sihanoukville during which 28 people died and 26 were hurt.

Central and the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia in a joint petition issued yesterday said the government should consider providing public locations in the two provinces to build stupas dedicated to the victims.

Khun Tharo, a programme coordinator of Central, in a press conference, said the proposed stupas would serve as a reminder to all stakeholders about the two building collapses, and to raise the awareness of builders to prevent such tragedy from occurring in the future.

“I hope that the government will consider and provide appropriate spaces for building the stupas. These will mean a lot to the victims and their families,” he said. “The stupas will serve as a reminder to everyone to pay close attention to constructing buildings in line with standards.”

In the petition, the two groups also called on the government to conduct regular inspections on all buildings under construction to ensure that the projects comply with both the law and safety standards.

They said the government must immediately halt work on buildings being constructed without permits or do not follow technical specifications.

The groups also asked the government to ensure appropriate damages and compensation for victims, including their families and dependents, and conduct a thorough investigation to find and punish the perpetrators.

Sok Kin, president of the BWTUC, yesterday said the groups have started gathering support from all concerned parties and are scheduled to submit the petition to the government next week.

“We will submit the petition to all relevant public institutions next week. If they do not react, we will continue engaging discussions with government officials and raise this problem again and again,” he said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said relevant authorities have been instructed to firmly implement law enforcement against illegal constructions, adding that the proposed stupas will not be of any use.

“Having a stupa is useless. The important thing is that we must strengthen law enforcement,” he noted. “We have laws that can protect workers and ensure construction projects meet with the standards.”

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearom yesterday said the provincial authorities are now working closely with the 23 technical working groups, set up by the government, to inspect and review the quality of buildings in the province.

He noted that a total of 14 recently constructed buildings were demolished in August after they were found to have developed cracks and failed to meet technical standards.

“Relevant authorities are continuing their work and conducting inspections to ensure that no such collapse incident will take place again,” Mr Phearom said.

Speaking in a press conference on January 5, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the newly formulated construction law will help reduce incidents of building collapse caused by failures in construction standards and quality.

According to him, the new construction law will require the owner of a construction project or a contractor to hire another company to check if the construction work meets technical standards.

Regarding the collapse last week, Kampot provincial court, acting for Kep province which has no court, on Monday charged the two owners of the building with manslaughter.

In June, Preah Sihanouk court charged the Chinese owner of the collapsed building with unintentional murder

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