Authorities Halt Construction at 50 Sites in Banteay Meanchey

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A construction site in Poipet city that was later suspended by authorities, in a photo dated January 6, 2020 and posted to the Facebook page of the provincial land management department.

Nearly 200 construction sites in Banteay Meanchey province have been found to be under construction without a permit or to be violating building standards, the provincial land management department said on Thursday.

Fifty of the constructions have so far been suspended, it said.

Eng Narith, the department’s director, said the suspensions aimed to protect the lives of people.

Thirty-six people, including six children, died after an under-construction building collapsed in Kep province last week. Labor groups have called on the government to more strictly enforce building standards after officials said the construction had been violating the terms of its permit.

“As a first step, we’ll work on the at-risk sites. We’ll check techniques, the quality of the construction and legal regulations. If they fall short of any among the three, we will close them down,” Narith said. “For instance, constructions that have a permit but have built more floors [than permitted] … that is what is wrong.”

The Kep construction had risen to seven floors despite a permit for fewer stories, officials have said.

According to a Facebook post by the department this week, some of the constructions had been suspended because workers were living on-site — a situation that has been almost ubiquitous across Cambodia but which the government has pushed to put to an end.

Kong Sokhon, a plaster foreman at a suspended Vattanac Bank building project in Poipet, said workers simply follow orders and did not know whether their sites had permits.

“Oh, brother — if the construction is suspended, just let it be,” Sokhon said.

Sok Kin, president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union, said he welcomes authorities’ newfound focus on halting illegal constructions, and asked that in the future they enforce the law before problems arise.

“I ask the government, ministries and departments to look first before allowing investors to build,” Kin said.

According to a statement dated Thursday, the Land Management Ministry ordered officers to inspect construction sites in every province.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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