Digging reportedly restarted yesterday at a controversial building site along Phnom Penh’s riverside, despite construction being stopped by local authorities one day earlier.
Work at the mysterious Sisowath Quay project, being developed by local company Vattanac, has caused extensive damage to buildings near the site – including a number of well-known businesses lying near the popular Foreign Correspondents’ Club – and has led district authorities to ask at least 11 families to evacuate their home.
On Tuesday, local authorities confiscated equipment from the site and ordered construction to stop to prevent further damage to the adjacent buildings.
The move has apparently failed.
“At around 10.00am today, approximately 10 to 15 workers returned to the site and brought back their equipment,” said Yourin Ngim, owner of Khmeroyal Hotel, located next to the construction area. “They were working and digging dirt for about an hour.”
Yourin Ngim said the construction has taken a serious financial toll on his business. Customers had lodged complaints about the loud noises caused by the construction, which shook his building.
“I have lost 30 to 40 percent of my income in the last few months and I blame that on the construction taking place,” he said. “No one wants to stay here anymore.”
Yourin Ngim has hired an engineer to inspect the hotel for damage while several business owners are now looking to Vattanac in hopes of receiving compensation for the damage caused to their properties.
Leaning walls and large cracks were clearly visible in buildings on the block, which stretches from Street 178 to Street 184.
Giorgio Arcasi, owner of the well-known Italian restaurant Pop Café, which shows recent cracks on its walls from the construction, said yesterday that he was willing to take the complaint with Vattanac to court if necessary.
“I will take them [Vattanac] to court even if takes 10 years to get compensation, but I don’t want to do that. I hope they make the right decision and give everyone proper compensation,” he said.
People who attended a meeting on Monday to discuss the problem said that representatives from Vattanac had promised that insurance workers would inspect buildings on the block.
“Hopefully very soon someone from the insurance will come, and if this actually happens or not will determine what action I decide to take. Hopefully they will come and be fair,” Arcasi said.
District governor Sok Sambath could not be reached yesterday, while two other district officials declined to comment.
Chhun Leang, president of Vattanac Properties Ltd and chairperson of Vattanac Bank, could not be reached yesterday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING KIM YUTHANA AND KONG META