New premises slated to open in December as construction slowed by weather, logistical problems
An artist’s impression of the new Council of Ministers building, which is a gift from the Chinese government.
BLIZZARD, an earthquake, disease and logistical snags have slowed construction of the future Council of Ministers building, pushing its forecasted completion to November or December, about three months beyond the original deadline, according to an official with the Yunnan Construction Engineering Group.
"The project must be finished by December," said Shi Wenming. "Both sides are quite sensitive about the project."
Construction of the US$33 million building, a gift from the Chinese government to honour 50 years of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Phnom Penh, began in January 2007.
"Almost all of the materials come from China. Because of a snowstorm, construction materials could not be transported to Guangzhou, one of the Chinese ports for sending materials overseas," Shi explained.
Then in May, the devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan province pulled many workers away from the Phnom Penh worksite.
"Of the 500 Chinese workers, 202 come from Sichuan. Some come from the stricken areas, and 60 went back home," Shi said.
Dengue fever struck too, slowing construction enough for the Yunnan company to import its own medical personnel.
But some of the biggest hold-ups occurred at the port of Ho Chi Minh City, where materials were transferred from large ocean-going vessels to smaller riverboats.
"The longest delay took 68 days when normally it should take 20," Shi said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said no ribbon-cutting date has been set for the new facility, but he said the government is looking forward to moving into it in November or December.