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Vendors protest relocation

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090227_03.jpg

Streetside fish vendors near Olympic Market say they'll continue to

protest relocation order, as city officials say removal necessary to

ease traffic jams.

Photo by:
HENG CHIVOAN 

May Chhann, an Olympic Market vendor who is 71 years old, protests the relocation order on Thursday morning.  

FISH vendors from the capital's Olympic Market say efforts to protest their forced removal from the streets where they have long operated have been met with threats of police violence.

Some 100 of the vendors were trying to deliver a letter to City Hall on Thursday when police told them to turn back or face physical

punishment, forcing them to move their protest to a different venue, according to a representative of the group, May Kim Seak.

City authorities sent letters to the area's 766 street vendors on February 2 telling them they would have to cease trading on the sidewalks near the market by last Sunday in a bid to clean up the area.

"We just want the Phnom Penh governor [Kep Chuktema] to resolve our problem and help us keep our right to sell at our old places," said May Kim Seak.

She said that in 1993 the vendors had been forced to move to street 310, one block from Olympic Market. Now, she said, the municipality wanted them to move even further away from the market.

"We have handed in our letter and the municipal Cabinet has stamped it. They said they would work out a settlement and told us we should stop protesting and go home," she said.

Another vendor, Heng Vannak, who is disabled, said he had been waiting four days for the authorities to resolve the issue, but nothing had happened. "I can't earn any money because I have to come and protest," he complained.

Lo Yuy, Chamkarmon district governor, said the vendors' sales activities had damaged the street and the authorities needed to repair it.

The commune chief of the Tuol Svay Prey I commune, Ly Pu, said vendors had the right to protest but that would not affect the municipality's determination to stick with its development project. And that meant they would not be allowed to sell from the sidewalks of Street 310 again, he said.

"That area is the street. We have provided them with new stores they can move to," he said of the municipality's plan to shift them to a street behind the Tuol Sleng Primary School. "We want to eliminate the culture of sidewalk selling. They have clogged up traffic for 10 years now."

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