Sponsored / Improved safety standards can propel Cambodia’s construction industry forwards

Posted on: March 9, 2018 | Special Reports

Sponsored: Improvements in Cambodia’s building standards gain traction within the public and private sectors

Downtown Phnom Penh is undergoing huge development

Cambodia’s construction sector is very much alive in 2018. Currently, about 110 condominium projects are underway in the capital Phnom Penh alone, according to a recent Century 21 report cited in PropertyGuru Property Report magazine. In fact, one of the future tallest structures in the Asean region is planned for the city, continuing its transformation from a low-rise metropolis into a high-rise hub.

Despite the vibrant construction scene over the past few years, it is only recently that local industry has begun paying attention to enforcing safe building practices. Not only does Cambodia appear to be behind its Southeast Asian neighbours in this regard, but the country’s fast-growing industry may be hanging the lives of construction workers, pedestrians and tenants in the balance without proper security measures and training, as the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom described it in their 2017 article “Creating Value Through Human Rights in Business.”

The Cambodian government is leading the way to progress. Yearly, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) participates in dialogues and seminars with the private sector to keep the momentum going for the improvement of building standards.

Recently, MLMUPC’s Senior Minister Chea Sophara – who keynoted the 2017 gala dinner of the PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards and praised the efforts of the awards organisers and shortlisted developers to elevate industry standards – joined a similar forum and reminded builders and stakeholders to abide by the technical codes and regulations to obtain construction permits.

The minister said: “It is necessary to organise the construction and maintenance of the site, including public road sanitation, notably the transport of concrete and other construction materials on public roads. All construction sites are equipped with equipment and tools to protect the safety and health of workers.”

This issue has not gone unnoticed by overseas companies with investment in Cambodia. Taiwanese-backed firm TC Royal Manor Co Ltd, developer of the mixed-use high-rise TK Royal One on Russian Boulevard, a Highly Commended awardee at the inaugural Cambodia Property Awards, was lauded for giving importance to safety regulations at its construction site.

“As a foreign investor, we want to have a positive and good image in this country,” Chenyi Chiu, general manager of TC Royal Manor, told PropertyGuru Property Report in 2016. “We want to give back to Cambodia by regulating our own site. We want to raise their understanding about building safety by giving them a model and other developers can learn from this.”

A major push for these reforms comes from Switzerland-based international humanitarian agency, CARE, whose Cambodian organisation focuses on the rights of women and minorities, as well as sustainable changes in local communities. Led by country manager Joanne Fairley and assistant country director Jan Noorlander, CARE has aligned with the PropertyGuru Cambodia Property Awards in the last two years to urge the local construction sector to commit to occupational health and safety for all workers, particularly women.

The sector has a long way to go, but as more developers and investors in Cambodia’s rapidly evolving industry acknowledge the value of positive construction practices, along with their growing corporate social responsibility and sustainable development initiatives, the future seems bright.