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City Hall pulls plug on market fee collector

A vendor organises cuts of meat at a stall in Phnom Penh’s Kandal Market last year where Roth Sopheap’s company is responsible for collecting rent from shop owners.
A vendor organises cuts of meat at a stall in Phnom Penh’s Kandal Market last year where Roth Sopheap’s company is responsible for collecting rent from shop owners. Kimberley McCosker

City Hall pulls plug on market fee collector

Phnom Penh City Hall plans to replace the controversial contractor in charge of collecting parking and stall fees from markets around the city, according to a letter from the Council of Ministers posted on social media yesterday.

The council approved the municipality’s plan to fire the Roth Sensopheap Company and take it to court for money allegedly owed to the city. The amount owed was not immediately available yesterday.

The company has been embroiled in controversy since the August 2014 arrest of its owner, Roth Sopheap. A businessman had filed a complaint against Sopheap, saying that he paid her $190,000 for the right to collect fees in Daun Penh but never received the necessary permits.

During that period, multiple vendors told the Post that Sopheap’s company was overcharging and intimidating them.

San Chey, director of the Khmer Institute of National Development, yesterday said that the practice still persists.

“It happens all around Phnom Penh,” he said. “This could be corruption between local authorities and the company.”

The company did not return calls for comment yesterday.

At the time of her arrest, Sopheap said she had paid $150,000 to former Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema for the collection licence in 2010 but had never received all the necessary paperwork.

Despite this, her company started collecting fees and continues to do so today, according to Daun Penh District Governor Kouch Chamrouen.

Chey said that the process to get a collection contract is shrouded in secrecy.

“There needs to be an open bidding for the slot so that good businessmen can apply and operate,” he said. “If there is no such mechanism, I don’t expect good collection of public fees.”

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

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