ABOUT 200 vendors from Phnom Penh’s Serei Pheap market held a demonstration in front of the National Assembly on Wednesday to protest the market’s impending court-ordered demolition, which they say contravenes the prime minister’s policy on new markets in the capital.
“We are demanding that the authorities stop their plan to close the market. Prime Minster Hun Sen banned all further developments of markets in the city in order to make it easier for us to do business,” said vendors’ representative Lay Silo.
“In addition to the prime minister’s decision in June, we still have our lease. We took out a 25-year contract with the market owner, but have only been open about 13 years.”
In a letter dated June 15, Hun Sen asked City Hall to halt the development of new markets in the city in order to assure vendors that they should continue investing in their businesses. After the Council of Ministers released the letter on June 16, the city’s vendors sent a letter of thanks to the prime minister, Phnom Penh governor and district governor.
Lim Leang Se, Hun Sen’s deputy cabinet chief, said that vendors went on Tuesday to ask the premier for help, but that the case was out of his control.
“We cannot help them, but the vendors can still file a complaint to the Supreme Court,” he said.
About 200 vendors at the market say they signed a 25-year lease with market owner Lim Kimpheng in 1996, but Som Sovan, Prampi Makara district governor, said the vendors’ lease had elapsed.
“The court order only affects about 30 to 40 vendors in the market,” he said. “Those with businesses along Street 137 may remain open, but the market itself must close. The owner has a land title, so he can get it back to develop it when he wants.”
Lim Kimpheng was unavailable for comment Wednesday.