Municipal officials who conducted an inspection of the historic Renakse Hotel last month reported that the French colonial-era building has deteriorated to such a stage that even a “strong wind” posed a serious danger.
Renovations carried out on the Renakse, which is owned by the CPP and was a fully operational hotel until being shuttered by a municipal court ruling in favor of the ruling party following a lease dispute, had also made the building dangerous, the report states.
“Renovations adding ceilings and reinforced concrete support beams are heavy burdens on the old brick columns and may cause the foundation and support to accidentally collapse,” according to a copy of the building inspection dated Dec 31 and addressed to Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema.
The municipal department of land management and construction, which produced the report, “thinks that the building is more than 100 years old, built with bricks covered with sand and concrete, is not firm and lacks proper construction and technical maintenance.”
“Therefore, it cannot ensure safety anymore…and may cause danger to the lives of guests,” the report, obtained Monday, states.
The report also claims the Renakse’s sweeping tiled roofs are rotten, “termite-eaten” and “may cause danger when bearing heavy burdens or strong winds are blowing”
Other safety issues, according to the report, include faulty electrical wiring and cracked, decaying walls.
Unesco Country Representative Teruo Jinnai last week sent a letter to the Cabinet of the Royal Palace, Council of Ministers Cabinet Chief Sok An, Kep Chuktema and Minister of Cults and Religion Min Khin, urging that the Renakse be preserved.
On Monday afternoon, Teruo Jinnai said that he had not yet received a response to his letter seeking a stay of execution on the likely demolition of the Renakse building. Jinnai declined to comment on the municipality’s building inspection report, as he had not yet seen it.
Attorney Khiev Sepphan, who is representing the CPP in its lawsuit against the Renakse’s lease-holder, Kem Chantha, said the CPP had not yet started to raze the building, as such activity would have to wait until courts had ruled on the case.
“While the lawsuit is still in court, both parties cannot break the rule of law,” he said.
“If the CPP wants to destroy or repair the hotel, then the CPP has to file a case in court and the court can decide,” he added.
Kem Chantha, who was removed by armed police from the hotel Jan 6 despite the court not having yet ruled on her lease dispute with the CPP, said she did not know Monday of any demolition work having started at the hotel.
However, a large green net, which is standard on demolition sites, was erected around the hotel Saturday, she said.
Min Khin, who is representing the CPP in its tussle with Kem Chantha, who has a 49-year lease on the Renakse, said he had not yet received Unesco’s letter and declined to comment.
(Additional reporting by Kim Chan)