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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Squatters complicate land grab

Squatters complicate land grab

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Expanding Angkor Night Market clears out some unruly neighbours

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Angkor Night Market manager Ota Verveka poses with croc removed from his new site.

A LAND grab, necessary for the expansion of the Angkor Night Market, was successfully implemented in downtown Siem Reap last month. But some of the more unruly non-paying squatters and rabble with no legal claims had to be tied up before being forcibly removed.

The tenants - crocodiles - had to be removed from pits at the old crocodile farm adjacent to the night market after its owner-director, Lim Nam,  bought the 800-square-metre L-shaped parcel of land to further expand the market.

Earlier this year, the market had been extended by about 600 square metres to accommodate 20 more stalls, and work on this had just finished when the crocodiles were given the heave-ho.

New facilities have already been added to provide that all-important amenity for visiting foreigners: stylish and sanitary Western-style toilets. The new building also houses market offices and a minimart.

Having gotten rid of the unwanted saurian tenants, Angkor Night Market general manager, former Czech journalist and photographer-around-town, Ota Verveka now has problems with the neighbours.

A new night market is under construction just metres from the entrance to the Angkor Night Market, but Ota is taking this incursion in stride.

"I welcome them," he said. "They will make us work harder to be better."

He already has big plans for the land that housed the crocs. He wants to create "something special", with more stalls, in the style of traditional Khmer wooden houses.

He will build two bars around the former crocodile pits and open a two-storey restaurant.

He has art and photo galleries on the drawing board and aims to avoid exhibiting the "regular stuff." He's also planning an entertainment area, and wants to introduce skittles to Siem Reap, providing he can find a supplier.

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