Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Audit necessary before demolition, NGOs say

Audit necessary before demolition, NGOs say

A view of Phnom Penh’s White Building on Sothearos Boulevard earlier this week
A view of Phnom Penh’s White Building on Sothearos Boulevard earlier this week. Pha Lina

Audit necessary before demolition, NGOs say

A group of nine NGOs has called for a “full independent building audit safety assessment” of the capital’s iconic White Building, amid fears it is slated for demolition.

“The results of this assessment should inform a public consultation with the White Building residents and civil society regarding a development plan for the site,” a statement released yesterday said.

The NGOs said the statement was in response to a local media report in which Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong was quoted as saying that the time had come to condemn the building and knock it down.

Socheatvong could not be reached yesterday, but City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche denied such plans existed, while saying the building was a “danger” to residents.

“Considering the age of the building and the fact that it’s condemned and can collapse someday, we have informed residents of the danger in living there,” he said. “However, City Hall has no current plans to force people out or demolish the building.”

Dimanche added that City Hall was encouraging residents to move from their homes because the building was unsafe.

Officials have given White Building occupants – some of whom rent their apartments and others who own – the option of moving to an apartment built by the Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation (OCIC) in the capital’s Chroy Changva district, he said.

The decaying and dilapidated building was designed by Lu Bun Hap as part of a project overseen by famed architect Van Molyvann during the 1960s.

The building as a whole has no owner, said Ee Sarom, acting director of land rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT). Different people or companies own each unit.

Residents on Wednesday ex­pressed anxiety about the rumours, saying they would only leave on their own terms.

“Those of us living here agreed with each other that we will not move to another place since this place has provided us with happiness and safety for about 30 years,” Eng Kry, 70, said.

Chhean Vesna, 36, said that for her to move, the city would have to meet her price, “which is at least $10,000”.

“The money would have to be paid before I signed anything.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,