Following the lead of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction yesterday sent a letter to all provincial governors, urging them to identify and shut down building sites that illegally encroach on public land.
The letter comes hot on the heels of the premier’s Sunday Facebook post in which he warned investment companies and officials against colluding to build unlawful projects. The same post ordered all infringing buildings to be dismantled immediately and put the onus on the relevant authorities and ministries to make it happens.
“All the future illegal constructions constructed on public land have to be prevented,” Hun Sen said in the statement.
The Facebook post followed last week’s chance inspection of a construction site at NagaWorld, during which the premier determined that segments of the building were unlawfully protruding into public spaces. City Hall ordered the gaming giant to take down the infringing construction just hours later.
The ministry’s letter, published on Tuesday, orders provincial governors to better disseminate the rules against building on public land and called for local governments to identify infringing buildings and force their owners to pull down any segments in violation.
Kampong Thom Provincial Governor Out Sam Orn said yesterday that upon hearing the premier’s exhortation and receiving the ministry’s letter, the provincial hall had told local authorities and experts to collect information about sidewalks and public gardens in their territories.
He added that provincial authorities had already dismantled a building yesterday in accordance with the new crackdown, but was quick to insist they had not been asleep at the wheel. “It does not mean that we did this after we saw the announcement, but the announcement is the motivating force to make our implementation better and more effective than before,” he said.
Several other provincial governors did not respond to phone calls yesterday.
Illegal building on public land often accompanies the builders’ collusion with local authorities, said Sia Phearum, the executive director of the NGO Housing Rights Task Force.
“We have to figure out who is in charge in these cases, but we cannot completely blame them, because their salary is small and they do not understand about the public land,” he said. “They permit a person or company to illegally build on state land so that they could get some money to support their families.”
He urged that the government and Ministry of Land Management to create an inventory of state land, public gardens, lakes or canals and teach their staff to prevent “anarchic construction”.