Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

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Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by CEOCambodiaNews » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:13 am

How safe is the building where you live right now ?

The Bigger Problem Behind Cambodia’s Building Collapses
The recent spate of incidents raises a broader concern about safety standards in the country.
By David Hutt
January 09, 2020

On January 3, another multi-story building under construction collapsed in Cambodia, this time in Kep province, killing at least 36 people, including six children. It is the third major building disaster in eight months, after 28 died in Sihanoukville in June 2018 and three in Siem Reap in December. Unsurprisingly, there has been a considerable outpouring of grief and sorrow, but also of anger about why little seems to have improved since last June when the government and Prime Minister HE promised a widespread inspection of construction safety standards.

Naturally, anger has been directed at the repressive ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and HE, who marks his 35th year in power this month, making him one of the world’s longest-ruling leaders. Sam Rainsy, the exiled “acting president” of a now-dissolved opposition party, has tried to make political capital by claiming, on his Facebook page, that “HE is responsible for these recent successive tragedies.” HE, however, deflected criticism by stating that building collapses “happen elsewhere… including in the United States.” True, but such comments from the prime minister have done little to assuage a public that understands Cambodia has unique problems that must be addressed: widespread corruption; weak government enforcement of laws; unscrupulous businessmen cutting costs with substandard products; and poor worker safety standards.

Heads must roll in the wake of the development. Notably, even the servile Khmer Times, in an editorial dated January 6, even said that “the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction at the central level and its sub-offices at the provincial levels must take full responsibility.”

It should go further, however. Om Yentieng has been head of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) since 2010 and his successes can be noted on the back of a matchbox. If the government is serious about corruption in the construction sector, he would be given the boot and the ACU reformed. There must also be questions about the role of Kun Kim, for instance, who was parachuted in to head the National Committee for Disaster Management in June after the committee’s incumbent head was sacked following the Sihanoukville collapse. In December, the former military chief-of-staff was sanctioned by the U.S. government for corruption involving real estate development in Koh Kong province. HE has said the Kep governor, Ken Sitha, won’t be sacked after the disaster in his province, unlike the governor of Preah Sihanouk province following the disaster there last year.

The government must also move quickly to ratify a new law on construction standards that was approved by the National Assembly in October but still hasn’t been implemented. One must ask why it has taken so long to do so if HE reckons that “after the law takes effect, such incidents will be reduced or eliminated.”


Still, it hardly goes far enough. In most construction sites, workers and their families sleep on site, often on the ground floor. The new law says little about this; though any legislation to ban this practice will either force workers and their families to spend a large part of their measly earnings on accommodation, lead them to sleep rough on the streets or, less likely, require employers to provide accommodation for their workers. A novel though unlikely plan would be for the government to fund dormitories across the cities for construction workers and their families. A national minimum wage for construction workers would also be a start.

But the problem is much bigger than just government regulation; it requires a major rethink of how businesses operate in Cambodia. When I first arrived to live in Phnom Penh in 2014, I remember asking how it was that a six-story building could be raised from the ground in less than three months, as was the case for two properties near my Russian Market home. That’s the way things are done in Cambodia, came the response.
Full article: https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/the-big ... collapses/
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by talltuktuk » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:08 am

Cambodian safety standards 😂
Cambodia: where money can buy you absolutely anything except intelligence.
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by IraHayes » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:44 am

Maybe someone can correct me but I don't recall this being a common occurrence here until recently.

Is it:-
Sub standard materials
Poor workmanship
Poor design
Or a combination of all of the above?
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by Brody » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:53 am

IraHayes wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:44 am
Maybe someone can correct me but I don't recall this being a common occurrence here until recently.
Me too.

Does it have something to do with the Chinese influx?

Rushing projects to keep up with demand?

Is Cambodia getting more subsidized, substandard building materials from China?
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by Freightdog » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:12 am

Brody wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:53 am

Does it have something to do with the Chinese influx?

Rushing projects to keep up with demand?

Is Cambodia getting more subsidized, substandard building materials from China?
When you look at what China can achieve on its own behalf, and then look at how they behave away from their own society, I also wonder if they achieve a lower standard elsewhere because they look down on the occupants of that elsewhere, and that somehow justifies the approach.

One common aspect throughout much of Asia is that individuals frequently are simply not that important.
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by Anchor Moy » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:21 am

Brody wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:53 am
IraHayes wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:44 am
Maybe someone can correct me but I don't recall this being a common occurrence here until recently.
Me too.

Does it have something to do with the Chinese influx?

Rushing projects to keep up with demand?

Is Cambodia getting more subsidized, substandard building materials from China?
^Also, until recently, most buildings outside of PP were not built higher than 3 or 4 stories maximum. But with the Chinese real estate boom, suddenly every Cambodian with a block of land decided to build as high as possible to cash in on the goldrush. Because of the lack of official oversight, people were able to construct 7 storey towers instead of the modest 3 story block that was the original intention.
And unfortunately, a lot of owners, constructors, and officials in Cambodia don't really see why it could be a problem to add an extra few floors. Extra floors means extra money for all involved, so why would that be a problem ?

Add to that, the rush to get buildings up as fast as possible, and the use of cheaper materials which might hold up a classic 2-3 storey building but are not strong enough for the size of buildings today, and you get the results that we are seeing.
However, must add that I'm not a specialist but came to these conclusions watching the evolution of constructions in Sihanoukville. So my 2c.
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by Mishmash » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:28 pm

IraHayes wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:44 am
Maybe someone can correct me but I don't recall this being a common occurrence here until recently.

Is it:-
Sub standard materials
Poor workmanship
Poor design
Or a combination of all of the above?
Because of the boom, there is a labour shortage of skilled professionals.

Khmers learn and copy and then think they can do it themselves, and then mistakes creep in.

It takes a brave company to enforce all the standards and deep pockets.

Just in this New Year and just three projects I am tendering on AND just the electrical supply for those I have had to draw attention to design flaws.

Luckily I have access to genuine professionals, both foreign and Khmer who thoroughly review not only the materials lists but the design as well.

I can also state confidently, with pictures as proof that the workmanship is poor, even on iconic projects. Complete Fire Hazards!!!

On the material side, I only deal with certified suppliers and even then have to check random samples in a 3rd party laboratory.

The Chinese are not to be trusted - not at all. They will sell any old shite - soft steel, power cables with poor quality copper or reduced copper... the list goes on and on and on...

The Government does not have sufficient resources to oversee all this.

I have a conscience and have never signed off sub-standard work or materials, but this is not the case with the majority of buildings here.

Let's just say I moved to supply only as it was a major headache trying to get even one contractor to put to standards.

In short, too rapid expansion with limited oversight and poorly trained personnel (in addition to greed, penny pinching, corruption from the owners down to the supervisors signing off)

Would I buy any property here - no way - ever!!
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by BR549 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:04 am

I worked on storm sewer, asphalt and road grading crews 40-45 years ago.
The condition of the roads and storm drainage gives you a very good idea as to the quality of buildings.
The massive amount of construction spreads thin even honest inspectors.
The massive amount of construction drains the reserves of skilled labor.
The demand for construction materials allows substandard rebar, concrete and other crucial products to flood the market.
The greed factor comes in to play.
Toss in a normally reliable contractor who has a multitude of projects on the books and more coming in and you have the recipe for disaster.

The UK were master ship builders and yet due to similar pressures the Titanic was built with substandard materials.
A hotel in Kansas City Missouri, my hometown, built by the Hall family of Hallmark Cards had a contractor use the wrong bolts to secure a concrete skywalk in the lobby of their signature hotel.
During a tea dance with the ramp packed with onlookers the bolts gave way and over 100 people were crushed. It shocked the very core of the city in the late 70s.
HE is right...it happens everywhere.
Cambodia needs to have enough inspection teams to handle the boom.
The government has taken over the garbage business and trying to revamp that colossal failure.
They have electricity and water to tackle as well.
Laws are meaningless without staff to implement them and maintain their guidelines.
Looking back, the 5 floor concrete apartment building I was tossed out of in Sihanoukville in 2017; had black mold and everything in my bedroom had a mold on it within a few months..
The more time passes the more thankful I am the chinese wave got me the hell out of Sihanoukville.
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Re: Recent Building Collapses and Cambodian Safety Standards

Post by fsdfdsdf » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:36 pm

IraHayes wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:44 am
Maybe someone can correct me but I don't recall this being a common occurrence here until recently.

Is it:-
Sub standard materials
Poor workmanship
Poor design
Or a combination of all of the above?
poor oversight I would imagine. you dont just take a bunch of unemployed people off the street and tell them to build a building. theres someone there telling them what to do and supplying the materials and checking they do it as he wants. if the building falls down he is directly responsible
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