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Vendors' tables and chairs line the sidewalk on Phnom Penh's Preah Sihanouk Boulevard yesterday.
Vendors' tables and chairs line the sidewalk on Phnom Penh's Preah Sihanouk Boulevard yesterday. Pha Lina

Sar Kheng pushes Phnom Penh to clean up sidewalks

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng yesterday urged Phnom Penh authorities to rein in street vendors dominating roads and pavements, claiming they cause traffic congestion and created an eyesore for tourists.

Kheng told Phnom Penh City Governor Pa Socheatvong to find an alternate venue for vendors or limit their footpath space so there was enough room for people to walk.

“In some places, half the road has been used [for] vendors to roast chicken, fish and beef,” he said. “It is really a shame . . . Tourists will view our city as messy.”

But In Khin, who has been selling drinks on the roadside for 25 years, said she had no choice if she wanted to make a daily $5 profit to continue sending her children to school.

“I know it makes the road disorderly, but I do not know where to go . . . I have to earn money for my two sons’ education,” she said.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said the rich who park their cars on the sidewalk – illegal under the Traffic Law – should be targeted first.

“If we try to punish the street vendors, they will say ‘why don’t you punish those people?’ But if the people in the higher levels respect the roadside, the small street vendors and ordinary people may follow.”

City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada defended the municipality’s efforts to deal with vendors encroaching on the road.

“If we prohibit people from using the road for personal business you will say we violate their human rights, and if we delay it, you will say our authorities have no ability,” he said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

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