Preah Sihanouk projects halted

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A construction site for a new casino in Preah Sihanouk province. The Ministry of Land Management has ordered the province’s governor to stop construction without ministry’s approval. Heng Chivoan

The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has ordered the Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities to halt construction in the province without its authorisation.

On Wednesday, ministry secretary of state Chhan Saphan wrote to Preah Sihanouk governor Yun Min, instructing him to stop issuing provincial permits for construction without the ministry’s prior approval or first asking applicants to follow legal procedures and other technical requirements.

Saphan said: “There are a number of ongoing constructions in Preah Sihanouk province – some near completion – without the ministry’s authorisation. They only have the construction permit given by the Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities.

“This opposes Royal Sub-Decree 86, Article 5, Subsection 2 which says ‘construction permits shall be signed by a Chairman of the National Committee of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction upon the approval of the concerned authorities’.”

In response, Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min said he will act according to senior government directives and ask for additional suggestions if necessary.

Min admitted that provincial authorities visited and prevented many construction projects that did not have proper authorisation.

But he said they had given permission for projects as investors want them completed quickly and that obtaining construction permits from other ministries will take longer.

“They accused me of corruption because I allowed other buildings to be constructed without proper permits. They said whatever they wanted to say. I can’t stop them, but I am not corrupt."

“We want to help investors in our country, so we help them. However, I will follow the letter from now on,” Yun Min said.

Building and Woodworkers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) president Sok Kin said he was not aware of having construction permits in Preah Sihanouk province or in Phnom Penh.

This, he said, is because the authorities seldom followed the law as procedures to obtain construction permits differ by area.

Kin said loose law enforcement allowed investors to do as they wished, causing a lot of trouble for construction workers, the environment and people who live in the area.

“I cannot give more details. In the past, the law was not being followed strictly. We need to eliminate corruption. To make the law effective, we need to avoid corruption,” he said.

After the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction wrote to Preah Sihanouk authorities on October 4, the ministry released another statement saying it will create six teams to inspect and monitor construction projects in the province.

“The teams will be tasked to monitor and inspect construction projects in Preah Sihanouk province and instruct them to follow construction laws and other legal and technical procedures."

“The teams will report to the Ministry of Land Management to decide,” said the ministry’s statement.

Of late, tourists have criticised the Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities for an increase of Chinese nationals and construction projects near the beach which are mainly developed by them.