The Ministry of Environment on Monday inaugurated its palatial new headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, the result of a state-private land swap.
A Buddhist ceremony to bless the “Morodok Techo Building” in Chaktomuk commune was attended by more than 400 ministry officials and presided over by nine monks.
Construction began on the hulking white building—festooned with spires and domes—in June 2014. Sao Sopheap, a spokesman for the Environment Ministry, said that due to speedy workmanship, employees could begin working there as early as today.
“Environment officials have started to remove office materials from the old building now,” Mr. Sopheap said, explaining that at about 2,400 square meters, the former ministry building on Sihanouk Boulevard was deemed too small.
“The new building is named after Prime Minister Hun Sen to show gratitude, because he offered us this high-quality location,” he said.
“This building is huge—it is over 18,000 square meters,” he added. “We spent around $8 million to construct it. I did not count the number of rooms, but it has around seven floors.”
In 2011, the Environment Ministry entered into a deal with the Ratana Cooperation and Construction company to swap its prime piece of land in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Basac commune for a 9,000-square-meter plot and a new headquarters 20 km from the city center. But in 2014, the ministry abandoned construction and settled on the Daun Penh site—gifted by Mr. Hun Sen—instead.
Once the old building is fully vacated, it will be handed over to the Ratana company, said the firm’s director general, Ean Elen.
“When they take everything from the building, they will contract the land to my company,” she said on Monday. “But I do not yet have a plan for what we will construct on it.”
Asked who footed the bill for the ministry’s new site, Ms. Elen declined to comment.