Residents file petition over cracks

Residents file petition over cracks

Dozens of families living in Phnom Penh’s iconic White Building filed a petition to City Hall yesterday morning, urging authorities to put an end to nearby construction work, which they say has left large cracks in the structure, and demanding compensation.

Residents say the crack, which is more than 1-centimetre wide, suddenly appeared on Sunday evening across all four floors in the southern part of the historic apartment block.

Authorities on Monday suspended the construction of an 11-storey hotel just metres away pending investigation.

But Neang Tha, whose apartment is next to the cracked wall, said residents wanted the hotel project to be completely terminated. “Nearly 50 families who live near the crack submitted an official petition to authorities . . . to stop the company’s activity and pay compensation, because the people who live there do not dare to stay,” she said.

On Tuesday, residents stopped construction workers’ efforts to mend the damage. Tha said they would continue to do so because they believed that any repairs would be merely cosmetic.

Yesterday morning, workers for Malaysian company Biaxis could be seen sitting in excavators and huddled around in groups on the construction site. But residents said they were honouring the suspension.

Inside the building, dozens of doors remained padlocked shut, as tenants who fled remained too frightened to return.

One woman who had stayed in the building piled up her belongings next to the door so that she could carry them with her if she needed to escape.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche urged the community to “give us time to inspect the cracks”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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