Vendors selling goods along pavements around Century Plaza market in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district continued their protest on Monday after their first petition calling for the authorities not to rebuild the market was rejected.
Sok Vannak, one of the protesters, told The Post they had collec-ted thumbprints from some 300 vendors for another petition to the district governor before seeking Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention.
He said during a brief meeting with one of the district’s deputy governors while submitting the petition, the vendors were required to show their stall number, which they did not have.
The authorities, he said, would not find any solution for them on grounds that they had sold goods at the market without a permit.
“They asked us to show our proper stall number, but we sell at pavements, how can we have a proper stall? Because of this, the vendors selling outside the market decided to continue their protest,” he said.
Vannak said the authorities had a solution only for vendors who have a proper stall and would continue with their plan to dismantle the market and build a new one.
Another vendor who claimed to have sold at the market for a long time said most of the protesters wanted the authorities to let them continue business at the same location.
He said most of the protesting vendors were poor and would not be able to afford the rents when it opens after the redevelopment.
“The [protesting] vendors had done business outside [the market] for a long time. [The authorities] want to dismantle it and turn it into a supermarket. They won’t be able to rent a stall because the rent would be beyond their reach.
“When the planned supermarket opens, the prices of goods there would increase too. Customers in the area are not rich and wouldn’t be able to come to shop at the supermarket every day as they used to,” he said.
Located along Russian Federation Boulevard in Kakab 1 commune, the authorities reportedly plan to dismantle the market and turn it into a seven-floor supermarket within the next two years.
The district authorities and market owner have announced that they had a solution only for some 300 vendors who had rented proper stalls there. They said those vendors would relocate to a nearby park while the market is redeveloped.
During a press conference on Monday, Phnom Penh deputy governor Nuon Pharath said he would forward the protesting vendors’ requests to the upper-level authorities for a decision.
Pharath stressed that most of the vendors selling along the pavement were causing anarchy and public disorder in the area.
However, he said the authorities will negotiate with the market developer and persuade the firm to find a compromise for the vendors. “The authorities must take their requests into consideration,” he said.
According to a contract signed by Chan Sothea, the director of Century Group, during 24 months of construction, the company will set up a temporary market on the public park for vendors to sell their goods.
After a new supermarket has been constructed, vendors with proper stall numbers will move back to the supermarket and be required to pay between $10 and $15 as monthly rents.
The vendors will have the right to own their stall until the contract between the company and the government expires.