Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official urges building reform

Official urges building reform

Construction labourers work on a residential development yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Construction labourers work on a residential development yesterday in Phnom Penh. Scott Howes

Official urges building reform

A senior official with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction this week acknowledged that the ministry had failed to regulate the construction industry and must act to address that shortcoming, though those in the industry yesterday said they were sceptical of the government’s commitment.

Ministry undersecretary of state Tea Chanlyda on Tuesday sent a letter to recently appointed Minister Chea Sophara citing three areas that need to be corrected in order to get a handle on the booming sector.

The ministry had neglected to regulate and control construction sites to ensure safety for the workers and the quality of the construction; it had failed to regulate the construction profession; and had not encouraged local authorities to help prevent construction violations, Chanlyda wrote in the letter, urging the ministry “to speed up the legal works and technical works”.

Chanlyda declined to comment on the letter yesterday, as did ministry spokesman Seng Lot.

Construction accidents, sometimes fatal, are not uncommon in the Kingdom, and workers with little more than sandals in the way of safety gear are commonplace on Cambodian jobsites.

One 40-year-old worker at a Sino Great Wall International Engineering construction site in Phnom Penh said yesterday he didn’t feel safe on the job.

“I’m afraid of falling down because we don’t use harnesses,” he said yesterday. “We would like the government and ministry [officials] to come see how we work and the risks we face, but I think they will never do that.”

Cambodia currently doesn’t have construction regulations in place, and several workers at construction sites could be seen not wearing harnesses or helmets yesterday.

Sok Kin, leader of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said construction workers endure dangerous situations as safety checks are nonexistent.

The situation is even grimmer for those employed by small construction companies, which “cannot provide enough safety materials for the workers”, he added.

The union would like to see the government finally take action, but they are not optimistic.

“So far, we’ve never seen anyone . . . come to inspect,” Kin said, adding that by his count, in 2015, a total of 30 construction workers died.

Vitou Seng, executive director with the International Business Chamber of Cambodia, said members with the IBC and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors had a private meeting with ministry officials on Tuesday.

Government officials assured them that the construction law was on schedule to be adopted by the end of this year, she said.

“They informed us that the Construction Law is almost done,” she said. “They showed commitment.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen invites US president to attend summit in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen personally invited US President Joe Biden to attend the ASEAN-US Summit which is set to be held in Cambodia in November, as ASEAN and the US are expected to upgrade their strategic partnership to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, according to Prime

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub