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Battling illegal construction

Battling illegal construction


Unlicensed building projects have wreaked havoc on urban planning, say officials

Photo by: Tracey shelton

Police supervise destruction of an illegal home remodelling project.

ILLEGAL construction projects in Cambodia have left the urban planning process in chaos, say officials.

From the beginning of 2000 through the first nine months of 2008, there have been 5,597 illegal construction projects in Cambodia, worth a total of US$8.7 billion, according to a report from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

"Those who have built without permission have made a mess of the Cambodian construction sector and caused losses of profits," said Lao Tip Seiha, director of the ministry's construction department

While the number of illegal projects has been declining, he said, enforcement of the law was needed until the number fell to zero.

The ministry would continue to halt to all construction projects without lawful permits and would take measures against them, he added.

Leav Vanny, a project manager for Kaing Meng City, said substandard and uninspected construction projects would also harm buyers of these properties.

"Our company has permission to build," Leav Vanny said. "We want our customers to feel confident when they buy a house from us. We don't want to cause damages to our customers, and we don't want to violate the construction laws, allowing the government to shut us down if they find out," Vanny said.

He urged the government to issue clearer procedures for builders to obtain necessary permits.

Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute for Development Study, warned that illegal construction would undermine investor confidence in Cambodian real estate, "making the construction sector seem riskier and affecting the feelings of buyers".

The effect would be the same for projects built lawfully and those built unlawfully, he noted, with a broader impact on the economy, he warned.

National Assembly memberSon Chhay said that illegal construction projects had already put Phnom Penh in an anarchic situation, contributing to traffic jams, overburdened infrastructure and other urban problems.

Acknowledging the expense faced by real estate developers in complying with regulations, the opposition lawmaker urged reform of procedures under which builders apply for permits and increased efforts to provide public information on regulations and procedures.

He also urged greater government efforts to properly inspect all construction projects, penalising those in violation.


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