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People walk past a construction site in central Phnom Penh yesterday.
People walk past a construction site in central Phnom Penh yesterday. Pha Lina

Rules being ignored amid building boom

The Ministry of Land Management’s annual report published on Monday highlighted the ongoing challenge of construction projects violating codes and being initiated without proper permission, a problem observers suggest is rooted in corruption.

According to the report, the ministry authorised 2,305 projects nationwide last year, representing an investment of $3.34 billion – an increase of 33.14 per cent compared to numbers reported the previous year.

However, many projects are being started without ministry authorisations, do not conform to safety codes and violate public spaces.

“Some construction sites have no fences, improperly set the safety fences, or violate public land by using the land for building the quarters for the workers or warehouses. The factor ruins the public orders and regulations,” the report stated.

In November of last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen called out NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh for impinging on a public sidewalk and land owned by the Buddhist Institute.

At the time, he called upon companies, ministries and local governments to adhere to building permits.

Cheam Sakphalmakara, a spokesman for the ministry, told the Post yesterday that the owners of construction projects that continued to break the rules would face fines and be taken to court.

“According to our procedures, we have to file a complaint to the court since we have put a lot effort to prevent [rule breakers], but they keep breaking the law,” he said, although he could not provide a figure for the number of companies or property owners who violated construction regulations.

San Chey, executive director of accountability group ANSA, said the problem lay primarily in enforcement of the rules, implying that those who could pay to have inspectors look the other way acted with impunity.

“Most of the constructors [breaking the law] are the powerful and rich people for which there is inactiveness of the officials inspecting and ineffective implementation, but the state’s law enforcement seems to be very effective on ordinary people and normal vendors,” he said.

The report also made note of Hun Sen’s declaration last Thursday at the inauguration of the new Environment Ministry building that of the 2 million hectares offered in economic land concessions, about half had been sequestered by the government to be redistributed as social land concessions.

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