Two more companies have been hired to assist in the construction of a new $25 million national assembly building, the chairman of the National Assembly Construction Commission said Wednesday.
Cheam Yeap said he has rehired the ARTE Kampuchea Co as an architectural consultant and recruited Planner Co Ltd to oversee construction, which was begun in April by his son-in-law’s business, the Ly Chhuong Construction Co.
The ARTE Kampuchea Co drew up the design of the Assembly building before construction began, but Cheam Yeap said his commission decided the firm needed to be further involved. He said hiring the Planner Co Ltd was necessary to be sure Ly Chhuong Construction Co complied with desired building standards.
Cheam Yeap would not disclose the cost of bringing the two companies into the multi-million dollar project, but said the expenses would come out of his construction commission’s budget.
“This is the construction commission’s internal affair,” he said.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed against Cheam Yeap by a disgruntled building contractor, who was kicked out of the lucrative construction deal, is going forward.
Kim Khieng, director of the Giang Shi Trading and Construction Co, said he met with Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Tan Senarong on Tuesday morning.
“I informed the judge that I still continue my lawsuit against Cheam Yeap to pay compensation of $6 million. If he doesn’t have the money to pay, he can offer the construction [of the Assembly building] to my company,” Kim Khieng said Wednesday.
Although Ly Chhuong Construction Co began working nearly a year ago, only the building’s foundations are complete, he said.
Giang Shi was originally chosen from a short list of firms to construct the new Assembly building. Then the contract was pulled and given to Ly Chhuong.
Cheam Yeap has said that Giang Shi did not have the capital for the job, but Kim Khieng has maintained that his firm has a $15 million loan to finance the project.
Ly Chhuong, Cheam Yeap’s son-in-law’s firm, which now controls the contract, was not on the original short-list of contenders for the job.
Kim Khieng said that it was very unusual for the building commission to hire two more companies for the project, when the company awarded the contract had the capacity to do the job on its own.
“It is not transparent for other companies because we presented our technical qualifications and budget first,” he said. Cheam Yeap has filed a defamation suit against Giang Shi, alleging corruption. He is asking for $10 million.
“I will encourage the court to hurry my case to trial,” he said Wednesday.
The construction project has also encountered fire from Thai firm Insucon and Service Co Ltd.
In a Jan 9 appeal to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, which was endorsed by seven Funcinpec parliamentarians, Insucon criticized the slow work of Ly Chhuong and alleged the company’s budget was hinged to the state budget.
“This investment is based on the state budget. It is a very slow process that cannot progress or guarantee the high standards,” the letter stated.
Prince Ranariddh served as Assembly president during the last government mandate.
Cheam Yeap has said that Giang Shi and Insucon were not qualified for the project because they were not capable of financing it themselves.
Insucon appealed to Prince Ranariddh to intervene on its behalf, saying it has a $25 million loan from Krung Thai Bank to finance the construction.
Insucon also promised to complete the building in 16 months. Ly Chhuong has 48 months to do it, Cheam Yeap said.