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Ousted Bayon vendors ask to return

SIEM REAP PROVINCE
ALMOST 100 vendors who have been barred from selling goods north of Bayon temple protested in front of the offices of the Apsara Authority Thursday, complaining that the loss of income is driving them deep into debt.

The 97 vendors said they were ordered to remove their stalls in mid-March to make way for a string of national celebrations that included Visak Bochea Day and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.

But when they tried to return, authorities prevented them from erecting their stalls – even though were previously told they could start selling again on May 11, the vendors claimed.

“We cannot wait any longer, because we have not been able to sell for two months,” said Chan Nary.

She said officials with the Apsara Authority, the government body tasked with overseeing the Angkor temple complex, stopped vendors from setting up new stalls on Wednesday.

With no stable income for the last two months, some vendors have been forced to borrow money from banks to cover basic living costs, she said.

But Chrun Sophal, director of the communications department of the Apsara Authority, said it was unlikely the vendors would be allowed to return to their old locations.

“We see the current site is needed to arrange festivals frequently, and we need vendors to move their stalls during festivals,” he said.

Instead, authorities are considering moving the vendors, along with others nearby, to a location on the west side of Bayon temple, in the hope of setting up an organised – and permanent – place for their stalls.

“The new site is not far from the old one. But it is stable,” said Chrun Sophal, who offered no timeline on when such a move would take place.

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