A year ago today, a building under construction in Sihanoukville collapsed before the first light of dawn, killing 28 workers and family members, injuring 26 more, who were sleeping inside.
The seven-story building had been contracted by a Chinese firm looking to capitalise on the building boom then transforming the seaside resort town into an unrecognisable cityscape dominated by highrises. Though unpermitted by local officials and still incomplete at the time of the collapse, the structure had housed at least 60 workers and their families, most of whom were sleeping on the lower levels at the time of the 4am disaster.
The event made international news and forced a public reckoning with the often-haphazard nature of Cambodia’s booming construction industry. In part to appease investors wary of the risks now widely visible in the market, the Cambodian government fast-tracked passage of a sweeping new construction law intended to regulate the burgeoning sector.