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Market plan meets rejection

Local company abandons scheme after encountering strong opposition from vendors

A LOCAL company has backed out of plans to overhaul Phsar Chas, or Old Market, in response to strong opposition from vendors, a company representative said Tuesday.

On Sunday, Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation Ltd (OCIC) invited 360 vendors from the Daun Penh district market to a presentation on plans to transform it into a modern “business centre”, and had solicited feedback from them afterwards via written surveys.

Nou Netra, an investment manager at the firm, which also owns Canadia Bank, said the vendors had voiced unanimous opposition to what was presented.

“Vendors were not interested in our company’s development plan, so we have decided to abandon our development plan,” he said.

According to the OCIC’s vendor survey, the company, which was behind the development of complexes including the Sorya and Sovanna shopping centres, laid out plans to develop Phsar Chas – the oldest market in Phnom Penh – into a “business centre including a modern market, restaurants, entertainment, residential apartments and wide and safe parking spaces”.

Vendors who attended Sunday’s meeting and filled out the surveys said Tuesday that they had been made wary by the fact that vendors at other markets had been evicted once massive upgrades were approved.

Touch Sreymon, a clothing vendor at Phsar Chas, said she and her colleagues have heard of several cases in which vendors were asked to pay exorbitant fees for stalls in upgraded facilities.

“Vendors have the ability to repair their shop by themselves if the authority does not develop [the market],” she said. “We are not asking any company to help us.”

Sok Pagna, 52, a fruit seller at the market, said vendors were surprised by the invitation to give their feedback to the company, but remained staunchly opposed to the project nonetheless.

“We want to know why they want to develop our market while we are doing our business. We did not agree to allow them to develop because we haven’t money to buy a new shop,” she said.

She added: “If they come to develop without asking the vendors, we will go to protest everywhere to ask for help.”

Daun Penh deputy governor Sok Penhvuth declined to comment on plans for Phsar Chas on Tuesday, referring questions to So Vantha, the market’s director, who could not be reached for comment.

Phnom Penh deputy governor Pa Socheatvong also could not be reached.

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