Some 62 Otres Beach stall owners plan to petition Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Ministry of Interior for a resolution after the Preah Sihanouk provincial authority dismantled their stalls on Wednesday, with some having been owned for more than 20 years.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum said on Thursday that a total of 282 stalls at Ochheuteal Otres 1 and Otres 2 had been dismantled since December. The beaches are now being cleaned and tidied to improve their appearance.
“After the dismantlement, we will work to restore the beauty of Ochheuteal and Otres beaches so that they measure up to the world’s most beautiful ones,” he said.
The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall had since early December ordered vendors at the beaches to take down their stalls.
Most had done so, but those at Otres had protested the directive, saying their livelihoods had depended on the stalls for more than 20 years. They demanded that provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun compensate them. Having held out, the authorities moved in to dismantle the stalls on Wednesday.
Ti Ien, one such Otres Beach stall owner, expressed disappointment that the authorities had taken down their stalls without them receiving compensation.
“We are shocked and disappointed that the authorities decided to do this. Such action is only taken against ordinary people, with the authorities not daring to touch the powerful,” he claimed.
The authorities had not taken action against two constructions built along Otres because they claimed the facilities are legal, he said.
“We will not stop our protest. We all will gather at the Ministry of Interior and at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house [to ask for intervention],” he said.
Provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc Cheap Sotheary said the authorities should find a solution as some of the stall owners had taken out bank loans to run their businesses.
“People spent a lot of money on constructing their stalls. They knew the beaches are state-owned, but they also paid for sanitation and tax to the city authority. Therefore, the authorities should find a solution so that the stall owners can support themselves,” she said.