The Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction ordered a committee on Tuesday to spend a week inspecting the legality and technical standards of all construction projects in Preah Sihanouk province.
This follows the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday that killed 28 people and injured 26.
Minister Chea Sophara said the operation should be carried out rigorously and in full compliance with professional ethics.
Meanwhile, the governor of Phnom Penh has warned all 14 district governors that they will be held responsible before the law if any project under their purview is allowed to be constructed without legal permission.
Tuesday’s meeting, led by Sophara in Sihanoukville, was also attended by Minister of Environment Say Sam Al, Senior Minister Kun Kim who is the new first vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, Outgoing Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min, and construction owners and contractors from some 165 companies in the province.
“For all projects that have no legal permission, from now on, the authorities must file a complaint to the prosecutor to resolve the issue in accordance with the law. For now, we will create a committee to inspect all construction projects,” Sophara said.
He warned all construction owners to be ready to provide the required documents and not expect to be able to produce an envelope full of money when the committee visits to inspect. Sophara ordered all eight technical working groups of the committee to act professionally.
“The commission must be carried out as per your skills and proper code of ethics so we can continue to attract large investors to Preah Sihanouk [province] as per the aim of [Prime MInister] Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen,” he said.
Sophara appealed to investors to remain calm, saying the committee’s inspections were not meant to scare or cause trouble but to support everyone who complies with technical standards.
Preah Sihanouk administration spokesman Kheang Pearum said on Wednesday: “In the first stage, these eight working groups, which also have smaller [working] groups, will carry out their task jointly for a week.”
The order to create the committee, signed by its chairman – Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction secretary of state Lao Tip Seiha – states that the eight working groups’ task is to inspect technical, legal, construction and safety standards and the construction quality of all sites in Preah Sihanouk province.
They are to make a report on their findings to the committee and will have other duties as assigned by the committee.
Cambodian National Research Organisation director Sok Sokhom said the swift creation of technical working groups shows the government’s determination to avoid any similar incidents in the future.
“Please, technical officials of the working groups, thoroughly inspect environmental impact assessment reports and legal regulations. For example, this seven-storey building that collapsed did not have legal permission."
“I have seen another already constructed building in the province that did not have an impact assessment report – and that building is very tall,” Sokhom said.
The Phnom Penh administration also issued a letter to all 14 district governors warning them that they may receive administrative punishment and be held responsible before the law if any buildings that have no legal permission had been constructed in their respective territories.
A letter signed by Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng on Tuesday said the administration has regularly instructed districts to prevent any project that has no legal permission or construction that varied from its legal permission.
It said such projects have still been allowed to continue. Therefore, in order to manage all projects according to the municipal master plan and urban and technical standards, the administration requested districts to make efforts to ensure all projects comply with legal regulations.
“If anything is constructed without permission, or projects are different from their construction permission, you, the district governor, will receive administrative punishment according to the law,” Sreng wrote.
Koh Kong provincial spokesman Sok Sothy told The Post on Wednesday that the Koh Kong administration is also creating a committee to inspect construction quality. He said a proposal would be submitted to the governor to make a decision next week.