Government discusses new draft law aimed at construction safety

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara meets for talks with members of the Supreme Council of Consultation and Recommendations over a draft law aimed at ensuring quality and safety in construction. Photo supplied

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara on Thursday met for talks with members of the Supreme Council of Consultation and Recommendations over a draft law aimed at ensuring quality and safety in construction.

The discussions, which lasted from 8:30am until 12 noon, were attended by members of the Supreme Council of Consultation and Recommendations from 16 political parties.

The proposed draft law aims to ensure quality and safety in construction; protect the property and welfare of the public and property owners; safeguard the jobs of construction workers, and be accountable and effective in doing so.

The draft law, which contains 113 articles and 22 chapters, also stipulated standards for construction techniques and materials, procedures for managing the role of officials and audits, as well as the responsibilities of all relevant professionals and stakeholders.

Articles 92 to 106 specify the penalties for breaking the law – including warnings, revocation of licenses, seizing of property and equipment, fines and imprisonment – mostly concerning articles of the Criminal Code. Offenders face prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Following the meeting, Khmer Rise Party (KRP) president Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung told The Post that he supported the principles of the draft law, which would better manage Cambodia’s construction sector.

However, he raised concerns that while the draft law looked good on paper, concrete examples in the past had shown weaknesses in law enforcement.

“The ministry issued Letter 067 dated October 4, 2018, about the formation of a working group to inspect and monitor the quality of construction in Sihanoukville. But this year, a building collapsed. It shows that the working group is not active enough.

“More recently we’ve seen the partial collapse of a nine-storey building, and it was found that it had no construction permits,” Vathana Sabung said.

He said as a member of the Supreme Council of Consultation and Recommendations from the KRP, he would wait and see how effective enforcement was after the law was enacted.

Vathana Sabung said he expected the ministry to accept the various recommendations provided at the meeting to make the law effective.

Neither Sophara nor his two ministry spokesmen could be reached for comment on Thursday.

Vathana Sabung told The Post that during the meeting, Sophara allegedly denied allegations of inadequate law enforcement.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that in general, the KRP president’s concerns were reasonable, but by making laws, it at least provided a basis to enforce the law.

“The remit of the Supreme Council of Consultation and Recommendations is to participate in drafting and reviewing the law before joining discussions at the Council of Ministers.

“The law will then reach the National Assembly for approval. I don’t know yet what its exact contents will be.

“Whether buildings have collapsed or not is a separate issue. The law is being drafted to meet the needs of the construction sector in the future, ensure standards of quality and secure the safety of our people,” he said.