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Protest at market charge

AROUND 500 vendors from O’Russei Market gathered outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh villa Monday to protest a new daily 200-riel (US$0.05) market upgrade charge.

According to a contract dated April 21, a copy of which has been obtained by the Post, City Hall granted the Rath Sensopheap Company the right to charge vendors at markets across the city a variety of charges over the next 13 years.

In exchange, the company must perform upgrades and maintenance on various markets and parks in Phnom Penh and pay 136.8 million riels ($32,610) to City Hall for each of the next two years. The amount is to be renegotiated after that.

Vendors said Monday that though the new charge is small, it is not insignificant because it is collected daily.

“It is only 200 riels per day the company charges us, but it is a new burden for us, making us spend more money as less consumers come to the market,” said Heng Muoy, who sells books at O’Russei Market.

Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, called on vendors to “calm down” during Monday’s protest, but said he would advocate on their behalf with the premier.

He added that the government would study the company’s activities to see if it has in any way violated its contract.

O’Russei Market chief Keang Leak said Monday that he has temporarily prevented the company from coming to collect the charges beginning several days ago.

“We’ve just delayed them from coming to collect money at the market until we can find a solution,” he said.

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