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The Prime Minister announced that illegal constructions will from now on feel the full strength of the law. Vireak Mai

Prime Minister issues another Facebook warning on illegal construction

In a now-customary move, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued another virtual warning to severely punish construction companies that build illegally or without proper approval.

Hun Sen, on his social media page, last weekend highlighted the “anarchic” manner in which many buildings are constructed while also acknowledging the developments’ corrupt collusion with local authorities. He went on to say that developers from all cuts of the cloth, whether that is hotels, condominiums, schools, malls, or recreational clubs, have to obey the law even if they had previously managed to evade it. Those that continue to build illegally would be dealt with unsparingly should they not adhere to safety, quality and land usage protocols.

”Both small and big companies have to pay respect to safety first. All forms of construction must be legally permitted and act accordingly with construction conditions and with trustworthy quality,” he wrote.

Noting that he had personally observed certain buildings that encroach upon public property, thinking that they have managed to evade being caught, he sent out a clear message that there would be no hesitation from the government’s side to demolish a structure if caught violating the law.

Long Dimanche, spokesman for City Hall, gave an example of how developers evade oversight, citing a development that was permitted to build a three-storey building but ended up building an additional fourth storey. In this regard, he said, the local city authorities have to step up enforcement, while the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction must be more responsible in its role as regulator.

“If a developer violates any public or restricted areas, we have to take action and set them straight, but usually we do not want to end up with arrests. We want to prevent, not punish,” he said.

Kim Heang, head of Cambodia Valuers and Estate Agents Association, said that in a free economy, low-quality buildings with mixed property tend to go bust because, naturally, nobody wishes to be part of a poorly built building. As of present, most of these buildings have gone bankrupt, with only very few still holding up. Heang acknowledged that there are still slums prevalent throughout the country, and other haphazardly constructed buildings, but with the advent of recent warnings issued by Hun Sen mainly through Facebook, the number of these buildings has shown a substantial decrease.

He concluded that “it does not depend solely on the push from the Prime Minister; what matters is the quality. If the constructor does not have quality, there will be no buyer.”

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