Traders at Sihanoukville's aging Psar Leu have been given five years to carry on
their business at the old market, with an inter-ministerial committee hoping the
eviction reprieve will give stallholders time to save money to move into the new
Sihanoukville Trade Center.
Chhun Sirun, Sihanoukville's first deputy governor, said on Tuesday June 15 that
all vendors at Psar Leu can do their business as usual and those who want to can
register to lease or buy space at the trade center.
The news was welcomed by traders, who staged a three-day strike last month to protest
plans to force them to move.
"I feel very happy, and [so do] all the vendors as well, that they allow us
to sell at the old Psar Leu for five more years," said Khim Sony, a watchmaker.
However, Sony doubted that he could save enough to shift to the new market, where
a space 2.5 meters by 2.5m costs $3,770 to rent for five years. In 1984, Sony paid
the then-considerable sum of 22,300 riel for his small stall near the entrance of
the old market.
A cabinet officer of Sihanoukville municipality (who asked not to be named) said
the municipality appointed its representative to choose one Psar Leu vendor representative
after receiving a letter of instruction from the Council of Ministers.
He said: "It's very difficult to consult them when we have something to discuss
because there are a lot of vendors in Psar Leu."
A letter was distributed to vendors by the Psar Leu director on June 9 to announce
the decision to delay eviction. The decision was made by a committee comprising representatives
from the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy and Finance
and Sihanoukville authorities.
The letter made "Sihanoukville authorities" responsible for coordinating
negotiations and leasing contracts between vendors who wanted to move to the Sihanoukville
Trade Center and the market's owner, the Rong Fong company. The Post was unable to
contact a Rong Fong spokesperson for comment.
Local authorities are also obliged to manage the old Psar Leu over the next five
years and the letter stressed that this was to be done legally using official documents.
A spokesman said a team of seven people are working at the centre 7-to-11am and 2-to-5pm
daily to register leases and purchases.