A dramatic hike in rent by the landlord of Phnom Penh’s Dey Thmey Boeung Kropeu Market saw 60 vendors turn out in protest at the site yesterday morning.
According to Sam Sarat, a food and drink purveyor at the Meanchey district outlet, the owner is now demanding $200 per month in rent from each stallholder – an enormous leap from their previous $35 per month.
A greengrocer, Hai Sreymom, said that unlike other markets, theirs services mostly local factory workers and was therefore not very lucrative – her standard daily income is 30,000 to 40,000 riel (about $10 to $13), she said.
However, she admitted that the venue had been upgraded with improved roof coverings, security and hygiene.
The protest followed vendors’ failed efforts to negotiate a reasonable increase with the landlord, dessert stallholder Chan Sothea explained.
“We asked the owner to lower the price by 50 per cent, as we cannot afford it, but he disagreed. Therefore, we can only continue asking the district and municipal authorities to intervene,” he said.
Responding to vendors’ grievances, landlord Heng Kemseang said that the increased fee was to cover a $100,000 bank loan that he had taken out to pay for renovations and repairs.
“The [vendors] should pity me who dares to risk borrowing money from the bank in order to invest in this market. Their concern is that they cannot sell much stuff,” he said.