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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM halts market development

PM halts market development

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A directive signed last week temporarily bans market projects amid protests by vendors fearing eviction, but not all are happy.

Photo by: Sovann Philong

Vendors at the Russian Market open their stalls for business on Sunday. 

FOLLOWING a string of high-profile evictions of inner-city market vendors, the Council of Ministers has issued a directive temporarily halting all market-development projects in the capital, earning a mixed response from vendors, some of whom say they are happy with the move, while others remain fearful of future evictions.

The directive, signed on June 15 by Prime Minister Hun Sen, says both he and City Hall call for a halt to market developments, allowing vendors to continue their operations.

"I was very happy when I got this news. Now I am dancing," said Lay Silo, a vendor at Serei Pheap Market in Prampi Makara district.

"By doing this, it means he [Hun Sen] cares about us, and that he wants us to have good feelings when we do our business."

Lo Yuy, the governor of Chamkarmon district where the Russian Market is located, said he was also relieved to hear about the government's decision.

"It will be very comforting for vendors when they are doing their business," he said.

On June 12, vendors from the Russian Market went on strike after rumours circulated that the popular tourist site would be turned into a 12-storey shopping mall. The district governor had to promise the protesters that City Hall had no plans to rebuild and modernise the site.

After initial scepticism, Russian Market vendor Chhun Leng said, vendors are now more optimistic that the market is not slated for development.

"Now I feel confident to do business because I am not afraid I will be moved. When my district chief promised us, I didn't believe it 100 percent, but now, I believe it 100 percent," he said.

However, according to an Olympic Market vendor, doubts remain with some stall owners.

Muth Phong told the Post that Hun Sen's decree was designed to stop people from protesting market-development projects, which he says are inevitable.

"Developing countries can't keep their old markets ... so they will continue," he said.

"The reason they stopped the market-development project was because vendors always protest when authorities want to develop.

"I do not believe the news [that development of markets has been stopped]. They just do this to make us feel confident for a while and later, they'll start [developing] again," he said.

In 2009, vendors have protested at Serei Pheap Market and Russian Market and at Boeung Chhouk Market and Mong Russey Market in Battambang after hearing about development plans.

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