A seminar was held last week to discuss concerns about building safety, which has become an increasingly hot topic, with the construction sector seeing fast growth and investment confidence at stake.
The Seminar of International Building and Fire Safety Standards in Cambodia was jointly held by the Ministry of Land Management and the International Business Chamber of Cambodia on March 6 to increase the body of knowledge about how to achieve a high level of quality and safety in the construction sector.
The chairman of IBC’s Real Estate Sub Committee, Daniel Parkes, said the purpose of the seminar was to share ideas about international building and fire-safety standards. He added that two speakers from Britain’s Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS-UK) visited the Kingdom to offer advice to the government about preventing accidents in all kinds of buildings, ranging from factories to high-rises to residential apartments. They also provided recommendations on many other fronts, including laws and regulations, enforcement, and education, with a view to assisting Cambodia in its shift towards safer building codes.
Martin Russell-Croucher, director of Sustainability and Special Projects for RICS-UK, raised the case of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh last year. The disaster was caused by the use of inferior quality construction materials and the addition of extra floors onto the existing six-storey building – construction which had received official permission.
Sung Bonna, director of Bonna Realty Group, said that raising the Bangladesh case was a good idea because it helped raise awareness of the risks construction developers face in Cambodia. He added that he thought the seminar would help improve Cambodians’ awareness of the importance of quality and safety standards in the construction sector, which ultimately would be a driving force in terms of investment.
“Besides this factor, three catalysts are important in terms of attracting more investors – first peace, second economic sustainability and third good social security,” Bonna said.
Sorn Seap, general manager of Key Real Estate Company, said the seminar was useful in establishing safety systems for the construction industry in Phnom Penh and nationwide, especially fire safety.
“It encourages foreign investors and foreign direct investment when they see that a country has well-regulated safety codes for its construction sector. It’s a sign that a country is developing,” he said, adding that the result would be more foreign investors buying property in Cambodia.
Pen Sophal, secretary of the State Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said that building safety was paramount, and all construction projects needed to adhere to safety standards that mitigated against collapses, while also following safety standards that prevented accidents in construction workplaces.
“We hope that investors will have more confidence in us – especially in the garment sector and the construction industry,” he said.