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An investigator inspects a metal bar near the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh
An investigator inspects a metal bar near the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh last month after it fell from a construction site and killed a motorist. Vireak Mai

Project back on after death

Construction resumed Tuesday on a mega-development project in the capital, one month after a metal pipe falling from the site killed a passing motorist, the Post has learned.

The November 2 accident that ended the life of Puth Vanny – who was on her way to buy wedding presents for her soon-to-be-married son – prompted an investigation and temporary suspension order for one of the project’s four buildings, activity that labour rights monitors criticised as a charade resulting in no substantial changes to typically lax building safety standards in the country.

“We have regulations on safety at construction sites, but how effective can the regulations be without enforcement?” said Moeun Tola, labour program coordinator at the Community Legal Education Center.

In the wake of the accident, seven arrests were made, and five of the workers were charged with unintentional murder, while the two company bosses were released – allegedly for not being at the site at the time of the accident.

No fines were levied against either tycoon Pung Khieu Se’s Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation or subcontractor Cana Sino Corporation.

“There is no law that tells us to fine them,” said Keurt Sareth, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, who previously said the accident “demonstrated a negligence of safety by the management”.

“We have finished the investigation over the case. We have ordered them to set up a safety system and make sure that everything is operated based on standards. The one building that was suspended is fine after that accident.”

Those safety recommendations included “moving the power machines further from the road and adding more protective nets”, according to Touch Samnang, project manager for OCIC.

Samnang declined to comment on why no manager had been on the site at the time of the accident, though he shifted blame away from his firm.

“This project is part of OCIC, but the subcontractor is responsible for this site,” he said.

Cana Sino representatives yesterday declined to comment for this article.

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