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Committee inspects hundreds of projects

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
A construction worker leaves his workplace in Sihanoukville. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearom recently revealed that Land Management Ministry and provincial officials have reviewed the permits and safety standards of nearly 300 construction projects in Preah Sihanouk.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered for the creation of the Committee for the Inspection of Quality in Buildings in Preah Sihanouk after the Sihanoukville building collapse in June that killed 28 and injured 26 others.

The committee is tasked with reviewing technical aspects, standards and safety of buildings under construction. It has the authority to draft and file a report to the Land Management Ministry.

Mr Phearom told Khmer Times that from 2017 to last month, 819 projects were approved to start construction.

He said two buildings have been ordered to be demolished after authorities discovered the buildings were unsafe.

“The committee has reviewed 297 construction sites and two buildings, one in Buon commune and one in Pi commune, are to be demolished,” Mr Phearom said. “They were owned by Chinese nationals.”

The two buildings came under scrutiny after pictures of cracks on their structures went viral online.

Mr Phearom noted that not all buildings will need to be reviewed.

“We cannot say how many buildings among the 297 projects will be demolished,” he said. “Some buildings under construction are being reviewed to see whether they can be fixed.”

However, Mr Phearom said 22 unlicensed construction sites in Sihanoukville were told to halt operations.

“What we are doing is avoiding future disasters,” he said. “We have already experienced one, that’s why we can’t tolerate this.”

“The committee’s job is to identify problems in construction,” Mr Phearom added. “Once the problem has been identified, we will take immediate action.”

Seng Lot, spokesman for the Land Management Ministry, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara said in a statement yesterday that legal action must be taken against construction projects lacking permits.

“The move aims to ensure that buildings are built in line with legal norms and construction standards,” Mr Sophara said.

A construction manager at a site in Sihanoukville yesterday said he was told that his project has to be demolished because it did not meet safety standards.

The manager, who declined to be named, said the installation of support pillars was 70 percent complete before he was told to suspend construction.

“This building was found with cracks on almost every floor,” he said. “You can’t identify the cracking point because the pillars cover them.”

The manager said the owner of the building attempted to replace iron pillars with concrete, but the owner was too late.

“The building was ordered to be demolished. It will be a big loss for the owner,” he said.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, yesterday called on the government to take stronger action against poorly executed construction projects in Preah Sihanouk.

“Aside from inspections, I think authorities should consider limiting the amount of foreigners coming from one country in order to encourage other foreigners to invest in the province,” he said

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