Municipal authorities have banned children from selling newspapers and flowers at major intersections in the capital in order to protect them from traffic accidents, officials said yesterday.
Heng Chantheary, chief of the municipal traffic police, said that traffic police were now required to move people under the age of 18 selling newspapers and flowers along major intersections – such as those along Monivong Boulevard, Sisowath Quay and Monireth Boulevard – because the practice was dangerous for children.
“We got governor’s [Kep Chuktema’s] order to ban kids from selling newspapers and flowers at some traffic lights and street corners,” he said. “I ordered local traffic police to stop and advise the children not to sell there. We are afraid that cars will crash into or hit kids.”
Heng Chantheary added that local authorities were often blamed when traffic accidents occurred.
“We suggested to them that it is better to sell at markets where they do not face road accidents or [affect] public order,” he said.
A 12-year-old flower seller, who gave his name as Chanty, was yesterday selling jasmine on a street outside a market in the capital’s Tuol Kork district. He said that he had been moved off the roads by police.
“I could not sell as usual. I have stopped studying to come to sell jasmine and some days I can sell 10 to 15 flowers – but I am unhappy when I cannot sell,” he said.
A spokesperson from NGO Friends International said yesterday that while they welcomed any initiative that would reduce risk for children and young people, the move needed to go a step further.
“That [initiative] seems to be moving [the children] from one area to another area,” the representative said. “Somebody needs to be working with them to get them off the streets either into education or vocational training.”
Joseph Menacherry, chief technical advisor at the International Labour Organisation’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour, said that he was not aware of the ban, but that “overall it is not appropriate for children to be selling newspapers at intersections”.
“It’s very dangerous work and should be discouraged …we would certainly encourage that steps are taken to rehabilitate the children and see that they are provided with proper schooling,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MARY KOZLOVSKI