While offering no concrete solutions to the issue, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday appealed for graduating engineers to be aware of generally lax building standards that could have a long-term impact on public safety.
Speaking at the graduation of students from the National Institute of Technology, Hun Sen said the graduates would be assured of jobs, because Cambodia is experiencing a construction boom.
“However, the buildings are constructed, please ensure the construction is of a high quality. Don’t mess around. It is very dangerous; if not today, 20 years on it will be,” he said. “The houses will collapse”.
Much of Cambodia’s infrastructure was redeveloped after the civil war, and international building standards have not been universally applied.
Experts say the complete lack of a national set of standards has left workers unprotected and a failure to reform could have serious consequences.
In October, at least four workers at the Nishiku Enterprise garment factory in Takeo province sustained minor injuries when the floor of the workshop collapsed.
The factory and the construction firm that built it have so far faced no legal action over allegations of possible negligence.
In May last year, a mezzanine at the Wing Star garment factory in Kampong Speu province caved in killing two workers and injuring many more.
Meng Chamoeun, director of the S1 project in Phnom Penh’s Olympic City, said it was important to improve the quality of construction work and materials. “We have to check the quality of the concrete, cement and iron,” he said. “Now there is so much dangerous construction.”
National building standards will take “several years to accomplish and would also require the establishment of testing facilities for materials as well as the training and employment of a cadre of building inspectors”, a report published earlier this year by Britain’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors noted.