Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Business Insider: Maintaining Phnom Penh's construction boom

Business Insider: Maintaining Phnom Penh's construction boom

Masato Sanae, general manager of the Cambodian branch of Japan-based Taihei Engineering Company, in his office in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Masato Sanae, general manager of the Cambodian branch of Japan-based Taihei Engineering Company, in his office in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Business Insider: Maintaining Phnom Penh's construction boom

Phnom Penh’s construction boom has created an opportunity for specialised engineering firms to carve out a niche in the Kingdom. The Post’s Robin Spiess sat down with Masato Sanae, general manager of the Cambodian branch of Japan-based Taihei Engineering Company, to discuss how garden landscaping and construction maintenance can flourish in the capital.

Why has Taihei Engineering chosen to expand to Cambodia?
We believe opportunity and potential are here. Our head office in Tokyo will likely start seeing business decline in the next few years, because we’ve already built so much there and Japan is such a small country. We can work on renovations there, but in Cambodia, we can use what we’ve learned as a company so far to support the people.

We plan to do this by creating a better environment here by focusing on creating landscapes and gardens first. Japan went through the same process Cambodia is going through now, with rapid development that isn’t always environmentally friendly, and we don’t want them to make the same mistakes we did. We have the technology available now to make expanding cities more environmentally friendly, and we know we need to strike a balance between building tall structures and planting trees to ensure our future is bright.

How are you intending to localise your services?
We have not brought all of our services from Japan to Cambodia, because we are different countries and it is important to determine what this country needs first. My strategy is to begin with landscaping and then to start teaching maintenance, for both gardens and for buildings. We hope to start our first big landscaping project in the Kingdom at the start of next month.

We’re also going to be offering classes soon, teaching people about the importance of nature and explaining how to incorporate environmentally friendly concepts, like hydroponics, into their building concepts. Hydroponics, for example, allows you to use the organic waste from fish in a local pond to enrich the soil you use for your gardening.

What kind of technologies will you be using?
We are working with the Cambodian government to legally import a drone right now. It is only for construction work. I know drones have a bad reputation when they’re used improperly, but we can equip one with an infrared camera to help with maintenance and surveying, and it could do a lot of good. For example, if you have a tall building, we can use the drone to find the cracks and broken areas on the face of the building to detect where there are water and air leaks, and we can fix them. We can also use the drone to fly over the ground at a site where we might be building to use the camera to make sure there’s nothing there. It can detect if there are landmines, and can tell us the history of the land before we start building.

Why would your company rather move into building maintenance rather than construction?
There is a lot of construction here, but there isn’t much preventive maintenance. We want to keep buildings in good condition so they can survive for decades, which will save building owners money in the long run. Phnom Penh, I think, is especially in need of this process, because so many buildings are going up here so rapidly – which happens in a lot of rapidly growing cities – that there are sometimes shortcuts taken in construction. If we can find the problems before they get too severe, buildings will stand solidly a lot longer.

Do you have any other specific expansion plans for Cambodia in the future?
For our landscaping projects, I think it would be great to team up with local artists to begin integrating their work into our gardens. When I was young I worked with a sculptor, taking commissions to install artwork in gardens, and I think it comes in one package – artwork and nature go hand-in-hand.

We’d also like to expand outside of Phnom Penh and into other cities and then some more rural areas in Cambodia. With landscaping as our starting point right now, we’re targeting restaurants, hotels and private owners and to promote our interior and exterior landscaping projects, which we can normally complete within the week. There are people here who are looking to cultivate the type of environment that will attract more people and promote ecological awareness.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MOST VIEWED

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors