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Demolition derby: Preparing the White Building

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The outside of Phnom Penh's White Building. Hong Menea

Demolition derby: Preparing the White Building

The Land Management Ministry and Japanese firm Arakawa have started marking off vacated sections of the White Building and disconnecting its utilities, with a ministry official saying he was confident the fewer than 10 families who have so far refused to move will agree to compensation before demolition is set to begin next Monday.

With less than 30 families still in the building, officials from utilities service providers have already started disconnecting the water and electricity supply to the building ahead of the July 17 demolition to make way for a brand new 21-storey mixed-use building. Hue Chenda, deputy director for the Land Ministry’s Department of Housing, said all families will vacate by July 15 and a local firm hired by Arakawa will start tearing down the structure.

He maintained that the handful of families holding out were being ‘greedy’. The ministry has offered the structure’s 493 families $1,400 per square metre for their apartments. “We don’t have a rule to give them higher [offers] than the others. In short, they cannot continue to disagree and remain in the building,” he said.

The ministry put out a statement on Tuesday announcing the demolition, with Chenda saying that they would make sure the vendors surrounding the building were unaffected.

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