Construction codes are progressing but are still a long way off

Government representatives and members of the private sector discussing the implementation of construction standards
Government representatives and members of the private sector discussing the implementation of construction standards. Photo Supplied

Construction codes are progressing but are still a long way off

Last Friday on March 13, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and the International Business Chamber of Cambodia jointly held a seminar to discuss construction and building standards. Considering the fast growth of the construction sector the need for regulation has become increasingly urgent, to ensure better construction safety and quality and to strengthen investment confidence in Cambodia.

The Seminar of International Building and Fire Safety Standards in Cambodia was meant to bring together stakeholders from the public and the private sector, according to Olivia Widen, Executive Director of The British Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (BritCham), to examine the findings and recommendations of last year’s report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICs), and to discuss a common approach to the development of building and fire safety standards for Cambodia.

“To date Cambodia still does not have a set of building or fire safety standards in the area of construction. Several initiatives within the Government are currently being developed, as well as by the private sector and relevant institutions. This led to the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Investment to commission the RICs to produce a report on the topic with a view to providing the Cambodian Government with assistance in developing building standards and ensuring better regulation,” Wilden wrote to Post Property in an email.

The RICs report outlines a number of very concrete key recommendations on what the Cambodian government can do to improve building standards. Furthermore RICs have provided proposals to assist the government in carrying out the recommendations of which some are already underway.

Pen Sophal, secretary of the State Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, told Post Property that building safety was paramount, and all construction projects needed to adhere to safety standards that mitigated risks of collapses and accidents in worksites.

Chrek Soknim, CEO of Century21 Cambodia said that thus far foreign developers coming to develop their projects in Cambodia implemented their own standard but stressed that this wasn’t the private sector’s call to make.

“It is the government’s obligation to regulate the standard because we have not had a clear regulation of the building safety standards,” he said and added:

“We already have the codes related to the construction permission that scrutinizes the safety of construction, but the fire safety standard system is still limited,” he said. “We are concerned about the buildings with 15 floors or higher because we are not sure whether we can insure fire safety or not. At this point, we carefully think and discuss about it,” he added.

Even though regulation has partly been implemented it remains impossible to say by when the construction code will be fully in place.

“According to RICs, it is hard to put a precise timeline to the time it takes to develop the codes. However, it is not something that can happen from one day to the next. It requires time and investment,” Wilden clarified in her email.

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