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Building collapses wake up real estate developers

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A six-storey building in Kep province collapsed on Friday, killing 36 and injuring 23. Heng Chivoan

Building collapses wake up real estate developers

The two recent building collapses in the coastal provinces of Kep and Preah Sihanouk are a wake-up call for the Kingdom’s real estate developers to be more attentive to their projects’ standards to gain public trust and buyer confidence.

In the latest incident on Friday, a six-storey building in Kep province collapsed, killing 36 and injuring 23.

It comes just some seven months after a similar incident in June last year, when a seven-story building in Preah Sihanouk province collapsed, killing 28 and injuring 26.

Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association president Chrek Soknim told The Post on Wednesday that the two building collapses were a lesson for all developers and buyers to ensure construction projects followed high standards and minimised the risk of injuries and casualties.

Soknim is also the CEO of Century 21 Mekong, which is developing the Luxury Holiday Villas project on a 97ha parcel, located near Kampot town.

“There is a need for joint-collaboration among stakeholders – developers, construction companies and relevant local authorities – to ensure that proper construction permits are obtained for all projects and the names of the construction companies and real estate agents who will handle project sales [are registered].

“At the same time, potential buyers must make sure they gather all the relevant information on the project before making their decision to buy,” he said.

However, Soknim expressed optimism that the recent collapses would not be too detrimental to the industry as a whole.

“As a whole, I don’t think the incidents will seriously damage the industry’s image. It is merely a wake-up call for developers to comply with the law and disseminate relevant information to the public. This is good for them as it helps build trust with the public,” he said.

‘Progressing well’

A staff of the New Landmark, which is a hotel, entertainment, and condominium project invested in by Chinese-owned property conglomerate Prince Real Estate (Cambodia) Group, told The Post on Wednesday that the collapse in town did not have much of an impact on its sales.

“Our project is progressing well and we have had a steady stream of buyers for our units as we use a very well-known construction company with a lot of experience in Australia and the UK. This has helped us to build the trust of buyers,” said the staff who requested anonymity.

New Landmark is located along Victory Beach in Village 3, Commune III, Sihanoukville, and broke ground in mid-June. It is being built by China Construction Fourth Engineering Division (Cambodia) Corp Ltd and is scheduled to be finished by 2023.

In the capital, construction of a 38-storey high-rise project, The Flora Suites, is scheduled to begin in the middle of this year in the centre of Boeung Keng Kang district’s Boeung Keng Kang I commune, the company’s president and CEO Lim Kok Loong said.

He said The Flora Suites is set to be built with a modern, western-style design and will take about three years to complete. The building will be sited on 20,786sqm and comprise of 198 units. However, he declined to reveal the total investment cost.

The Flora director of sales and assistant vice-president Saing Sopheakrady confirmed to The Post on Wednesday that the project will break ground in the middle of this year.

“Our construction complies with established standards and we received a permit from the Ministry of Land Management, [Urban Planning and Construction]. We have also purchased insurance to ensure that our buyers are confident in our project, just in case anything happened,” he said.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Tuesday called on the government to pay greater attention to the risks that thousands of workers face every day and demanded immediate action to improve occupational health and safety.

The ILO noted that this was the second major collapse in the Kingdom in less than seven months, following the one in Sihanoukville. It also noted that the latest incident is “the most fatal workplace accident in Cambodia in recent years”.

The government has approved more than $9 billion this year for capital investment in the construction sector – a nearly 80 per cent increase on last year – with most of the growth coming from projects in Sihanoukville, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara said early last month.

Data from the ministry showed that there were 1,081 registered companies working on construction projects in Cambodia as of November last year.

Four hundred and eighty-five of these were from China, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, France, the UK and the US.

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