A horrific collapse on a condominium building site in Sihanoukville, Cambodia has claimed the lives of at least 28 people and a further 26 injured, many of whom were construction workers sleeping on the building’s second floor. A number of people are still missing and believed to be trapped in the wreckage. Three Chinese nationals and a local landowner involved in the construction have been detained while the collapse is being investigated.
“The BWI extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who have lost loved ones in this completely avoidable tragedy,” said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “We are in close communication with our affiliate, the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC), who have said that none of their members have been affected.”
Construction activity in Sihanoukville has been expanding rapidly. According to Xinhua news agency a spokesperson for Cambodia’s Ministry of land management, planning and construction said the collapsed building had been erected without permission, with provincial authorities twice warning the developer.
“We are grateful that the Government has committed to a thorough investigation, but we are extremely concerned that there are construction workers across Cambodia at similar risk,” said BWTUC President Sok Kin. “According to a 2017 BWTUC survey, three out of four construction workers are forced to live on-site. Proper accommodation would have saved their lives.”
“This country needs a thorough review into its building standards, with adequate space for worker’s input and new rights to ensure workers are not forced to live and work in such unsafe conditions,” Sok Kin continued. “In addition, we need more funding for both labour and building inspectors, and new powers to ensure that they can actually implement safe practices. We must ensure that these workers’ lives have not been lost for nothing; now is the time to act.”