Sihanoukville authorities demolished two buildings on Wednesday that encroached on the pavement, dismantled seven canvas structures and dug up five stone terraces after their owners failed to comply with repeated instructions to remove the obstructing structures themselves.
Municipal governor Y Sokleng told The Post on Thursday that before deciding to demolish the buildings, the authorities had issued several notices ordering the owners to dismantle them themselves.
“We demolished two buildings in different locations that had encroached on the pavement. They were both Chinese owned. We have educated them on several occasions to not construct buildings that encroach on the pavement and to dismantle the existing structures. But not only did the owners not dismantle them, but they also kept building more,” he said.
Sokleng said local security forces also dismantled canvas structures in seven locations, two steel-framed and five made of stone, and used a bulldozer in five places to dig up terraces that did not meet technical standards.
The two Chinese nationals who owned the demolished buildings were taken to the municipal hall to sign a contract agreeing not to rebuild the structures, the municipal governor added.
“If we are to develop Sihanoukville successfully, we must have the participation of all residents. So I ask residents not to construct buildings that encroach on the pavement – an illegal act – or break the law in any way,” he said.
The Sihanoukville municipal administration issued a notice last Friday ordering buildings on state land along Street 821A, in Mittapheap district’s Commune 4, to be removed by Thursday.
Municipal governor Sokleng said on Sunday that the administration planned to widen Street 821A – currently eight metres wide – along with two other streets, as part of a master plan to develop the province.
Lim Pheaktrey, the municipal administration official in charge of public administration and environment, said on Thursday that the authorities would continue to dismantle any structures that encroached on the pavement.
“We will continue to do it on a regular basis. We won’t hesitate because Sihanoukville’s streets are congested these days and encroaching on the pavement is inconvenient and sometimes dangerous for local residents and tourists.
“We want to have wide roads with plenty of room for pedestrians to walk on. Chinese nationals have rented buildings from local residents and constructed many new buildings that encroach on the pavement,” he said.
Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, applauded the authority’s decision to dismantle such buildings and also the recent move to clamp down on shop signs and banners with spelling errors.
“I have made many requests about the matter because it has long been repeated – both illegal construction and banners containing spelling errors. But please, as well as dismantling the structures, fine the offenders – because if we don’t fine them, they won’t learn a lesson,” she said.
Sotheary also requested that such measures be implemented equally and without corruption.
“Ordinary people’s buildings are being dismantled, but the authorities often fail to enforce the law when it comes to the wealthy and powerful,” she said.