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Vendors oppose rent rise

MORE than 100 vendors at Phnom Penh’s Heng Ly market closed their businesses yesterday morning and held meetings with the chief of Teuk La’ak III commune and the governor of Toul Kork district, pressing for them to intervene in a dispute over stall rental prices.

About 80 vendors staged a protest outside the market early this month, after the market owner announced that he would be raising annual stall rental prices.

Rental fees for some of the larger stalls will be raised from US$2,800 per year to $4,320, while prices for some of the smaller stalls will increase from $350 to $450. Vendors say about 800 stallholders will be affected by the price rise.

Tan Heang, a vendor representative, said yesterday that stallholders had decided to take the dispute to the commune chief and district governor yesterday after receiving no response from the market owner.

Tan Heang said vendors could not afford the new prices, and that a January 1 payment deadline was drawing near.

“We decided to close all our shops since today to demand the authority help us to reduce the rental price,” he said.

“The market representative told us that they will close the market if we don’t pay them at the new price on January 1.”

He said vendors had asked authorities to find a way to keep the rental prices at the same rate that they were this year.

He said vendors would stage protests outside City Hall and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s villa in Phnom Penh if local officials failed to find a resolution.

Lay Sophy, a vendor selling secondhand clothes at the market, said the commune chief had told stallholders he could not help them, referring them instead to the district governor.

“We went to meet the district governor and the governor accepted our suggestion and he promised to make an appointment with the market owner in order to find a solution for us,” she said.

She said the market owner had proposed raising her rent from $920 per year to $1,200.

District governor Seng Ratanak yesterday declined to comment on the situation at length, saying he had just received the complaint and needed some time to research the issue.

“I will research to learn more clearly about their problem and then I will invite the market owner to ask him about this issue,” Seng Ratanak said, adding that he was committed to finding a solution for the vendors.

Heng Ly, the owner of the market, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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