Authorities Eager to Demolish Tilting Villa

Phnom Penh authorities are itching to remove a seven-story villa built on the banks of the Mekong River after the mansion’s owner failed to respond to an order to have it demolished by Wednesday.

“Sooner or later, we will knock it down,” said Mean Chanyada, a City Hall spokesman, before hanging up on a reporter.

cam photo villa channa
A villa being built on the banks of the Mekong River in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district despite an order by local authorities to have it demolished. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Khlaing Hout, Chroy Changva’s district governor, said he was urging restraint, explaining that local authorities could not simply smash the villa without appropriate documentation.

“We gave a month’s deadline,” he said. “Now we must file a complaint with the court before we go down there and demolish it.”

Construction of the white villa, which juts over the concrete embankment of the Mekong, started last year, said Suy Chomnap, a commune clerk in Chroy Changva, although its owner, Uy Vincent, had neither submitted a construction permit nor notified authorities that construction of the villa’s seven balconied stories was underway.

Nearby residents, meanwhile, fear that the illegal construction, already listing toward the muddy depths, will keel over one day without Mr. Vincent or City Hall’s assistance.

“We are worried it will collapse,” said a neighbor, who identified himself as Rithy. “It is a large construction, and heavy.”

Mr. Chomnap, the commune clerk, added that all of the houses in the area merited demolition.

“Every house over there is illegal. But they’ve occupied state land for a long time,” he said. “We’ve tried negotiating with them but we never reached an agreement.”

The state was spurred into action in Mr. Vincent’s case by the immensity of his residential aspirations, Mr. Chomna said.

“This villa is a big construction, so it could cause any problem to happen anytime,” he said.

Sarin Vanna, the director of Phnom Penh’s municipal land management department, added that he had his doubts about those contracted by Mr. Vincent to erect his dwelling.

“We don’t know if the architects have calculated the foundation clearly,” he said. “It will collapse if there’s a flood or the water rises, and then houses nearby will also collapse.”

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