City Hall Breaks Ground on New 11-Story $3.5 Million Office

The Phnom Penh Municipality has broken ground on a new 11-story $3.5 million building that is intended to house the city’s public services, the municipal spokesman said Monday.

Long Dimanche said construction on the building, which is being erected on a 1,000 square meter plot of land behind City Hall, started on Saturday and will take 16 months to complete and is being funded in its entirety by the municipality.

“After receiving approval from government, we broke ground for the construction of an 11-story building that will provide a variety of public services such as business registration, complaint acceptance, land registration and school openings,” Mr. Dimanche said.

The 11 floors are needed because “the population of Phnom Penh is growing fast, so there is more demand for pubic services,” he said.

“There are a lot of administrative works and public services to serve people, so we need more buildings to accommodate the number of officials providing public service,” he added. “Some municipal departments will move into the new building.”

The construction comes after a number of municipal departments were moved to the outskirts of Phnom Penh over the past few years amid a slew of questionable land swaps, where private companies received state property and land in exchange for building replacement offices on cheaper land on the city’s outskirts.

Such deals have stirred criticism because of the opaque financial basis of the “swaps,” and from people who say that state services are harder to access in remote locations.

One of the most recent swaps was in December, when the municipal department of public works and transportation moved from near Olympic Stadium to new offices built by the Khun Sea Development Group in Russei Keo district’s Chroy Changva peninsula.

Mr. Dimanche also confirmed that the municipality raised more than $175,000 in a Buddhist money-collecting ceremony on the same day that construction began, noting that the funds will be donated to “a library, a Buddhist school and primary school in Phnom Penh.”

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