More buildings are going up around the Olympic Stadium and, once again, politicians and ordinary citizens are crying foul.
In 2000, Taiwanese firm Yuanta Group signed a deal with the government to renovate the stadium, reportedly for $3.6 million, in exchange for the right to build on the stadium’s lengthy perimeter.
Controversial construction work on the south side of the city landmark was completed several years ago, but in recent months a new three-story shopping center has gone up near the main entrance to the sports ground.
Sporting officials this week called the latest development ugly.
“The new building kills the nice view of the stadium,” said Chhuon Leng, an administrative assistant at the National Olympic Committee.
“We got new paint and some repairs [from Yuanta], but we suspect the repair costs did not cost around $3 million like they said,” said Chhuon Leng, adding that the stadium has been reduced in size and flooding has followed the company’s development.
Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said that he is concerned traffic will worsen as Yuanta’s construction increases. However, Kep Chuktema maintained that he was powerless to stop the Taiwanese company’s controversial building work.
“We are worried about this but it is out of City Hall’s responsibility,” the governor said.
“City Hall was not involved in ceding the land to the company,” he added.
Last week, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay wrote a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, asking him to halt the construction and also called on Education Minister Kol Pheng to produce documents showing Yuanta Group has fulfilled its obligations to renovate the stadium and deserves to continue its building work.
“The state itself lost a big piece of land to the Yuanta company,” Son Chhay wrote.
Renowned architect Vann Molyvann, who designed the stadium, said the new construction will exacerbate flooding in the surrounding area because it has filled in a moat that he built around the sport’s ground.
Kol Pheng declined to comment.