Committee to investigate construction site incident

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Three elevator repairmen were crushed to death on Saturday after a 16-storey-tall scaffolding collapsed on top of them. Hean Rangsey

Daun Penh district police chief Tieng Chansa said the authorities have formed a joint committee to investigate the incident at a condominium construction site which killed three men in Srash Chak commune.

The scaffolding on the 16th floor collapsed on Saturday at the construction site located on the east of Holiday Hotel on Street 65, but the victims’ bodies were only discovered on Sunday night, and their bodies extricated from a pile of collapsed materials on Monday.

The victims were identified as Sok Sambath, 21, Yem Tin, 35, and Thim Thyrorng, 31 – all construction workers.

“We have set up a committee to carry out a thorough review. The police cannot determine the cause yet as the case is still under investigation by the committee,” Chansa told The Post on Thursday.

However, he said the incident was an accident caused by negligence and the family members of the victims had already received compensation from the construction site manager.

He said: “What led to this incident was not intentional, but was a technical issue which was not [the responsibility of] the construction site.”

Phnom Penh municipal Department of Land Management, Urban Planning, Construction and Cadastre director Sarin Vanna said the condominium construction site did not have a proper permit.

However, he did not reveal the owner of the construction site as he had not received any report of the incident which killed the three workers.

“The committee which was formed to investigate the case as instructed by the ministry, went to examine the site after which construction was temporarily suspended by the district,” he said.

According to family members of the three victims, they had received compensation from the construction site manager. However, they were not satisfied with the compensation.

Iv Kosal, 41, the elder brother-in-law of victim Thyrorng, told The Post on Thursday that his family could not challenge the construction site manager.

He said that if they continue to demand more compensation, it will affect their business which will lead to difficulties in the family’s livelihood.

Kosal said he had no option but to accept the compensation which was not proper.

He said if the joint committee could help seek justice or demand for higher compensation, the victim’s wife and children will be better able to support themselves in the future.

He said the compensation given was not even sufficient for funeral expenses.

“We lost trust from the beginning. We scrambled to seek help from the authorities but they blamed the victims. Some said that my younger brother was wrong.

“While we demanded they help make a report as soon as possible to extract the body for the funeral, they did not and delayed and kept it until the bodies were swollen and had died for three days,” he claimed.

Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) president Sok Kin said this type of construction mishap was not the first and most victims seemed to get little justice and compensation.

Although a joint committee has been formed, he does not trust them and he urged the authorities to first take preventative measures for the safety of workers.

According to Sok Kin, if construction sites follow technical standards and measures properly, accidents can be reduced. His research in 2017 found that 19 out of 100 workers face the risk of being hurt in an accident.