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Market vendors block police from removing street stalls in Siem Reap

Siem Reap Province
A GROUP of about 100 vendors staged a protest on Wednesday that successfully prevented police from removing their stalls in front of Pouk market in Siem Reap province.

Pech Sokhalay, Pouk district governor, said that people shopping at the stall were creating a nuisance in the area, and that the group had set up within 30 metres of a national road, a zone in which vending is prohibited.

Local officials decided not to go forward with a forcible eviction in order to avoid provoking a strong reaction from vendors, Pech Sokhalay added.

Chhun Tom, a 56-year-old vendor at Pouk market, said the demonstration startedwhen about 30 police officers arrived and tried to dismantle a 100-metre long row of stalls.

“We’re waiting for a response from provincial officials for a solution,” Pech Sokhalay said. “If they tell us to do something, we’ll do it. If they tell us to wait, we’ll have to wait.”

WE’RE WAITING FOR A RESPONSE FROM PROVINCIAL OFFICIALS FOR A SOLUTION.

Sou Phirin, Siem Reap provincial governor, said that officials have told vendors many times not to sell on roadside, but that they seemed not to hear and protested when officials implemented the law.
“The district governor should not ask for advice from the province. He should implement the law,” he said. “Selling on the roadside is very bad for the road, transportation, and tourists.”

Kung Chhum, a fried-chicken vendor, said that authorities had asked all vendors at the site to move to a new location where many feared there would be little business.

“We haven’t agreed to sell at the new place because it’s very quiet. We will not have anything to eat,” she said. “They just want us to move, but they don’t understand our business.”

Pech Sokhalay said that the proposed relocation site is a private market, and that the owner would allow the vendors to set up there for three months without charging rent. After that, he said, the vendors would have to sign a contract to remain at the new location.

“If vendors don’t like the new site, they can walk away,” he said.

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