Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen nixes Kampong Speu bus station to appease vendors

Hun Sen nixes Kampong Speu bus station to appease vendors

Vendors from a Kampong Speu market protest at the Ministry of Land Management in June, calling for the government to intervene in the relocation of a local bus station.
Vendors from a Kampong Speu market protest at the Ministry of Land Management in June, calling for the government to intervene in the relocation of a local bus station. Pha Lina

Hun Sen nixes Kampong Speu bus station to appease vendors

Vendors in Kampong Speu’s Chbar Mon town yesterday became the latest beneficiaries of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s tour of the provinces as the premier declared the contract for an already-constructed but long-opposed bus terminal null and void.

The new bus terminal, twice the size of the old facility, was built by Chhoun Kim San Import Export in 2012. However, it was never used because vendors refused to move the 400 metres to the new terminal as it is closer to the town’s market, and they feared their clients would shop there instead.

The prime minister’s decision by fiat, announced on his Facebook page after a meeting with provincial officials, put an end to the matter, though left plans for the building, constructed with public funds, yet to be determined.

“The old bus station will be kept the way it is for vendors to continue selling there,” Hun Sen wrote on Facebook. “At the same time, the provincial governor needs to discuss with the company to find a compromise solution.”

The decision marks a victory for the vendors, who last month petitioned the Ministry of Urban Planning to reconsider the plan to open the new station.

Provincial Governor Vei Samnang said yesterday that while the new terminal was “beautiful”, he was pleased Hun Sen had made the decision to keep the people happy.

“If we remove the people from there, they will be angry with us; so I am fine with it,” he said, adding that Hun Sen had ordered that national funds be used to compensate the company so as not to burden the province.

For his part, Chhoun Kim San said he was disappointed the new terminal had been shelved.

“I made the investment for five or six years, but now it is cancelled,” he said. “I don’t have any further opinion about that.”

Kim San said the governor had previously offered him a contract to collect fees from vendors at the old bus station by way of compensation.

However, the vendors did not pay him.

“For the compensation, I cannot say how much; let the government decide how much I have lost,” he said, adding that he had also paid a $100,000 deposit to the Ministry of Commerce when awarded the project.

The move exhibited shades of a January decision by the premier to abruptly scrap a private company’s contract for collecting tolls on National Road 4, a move popular with drivers, but which left the concessionaire in need of a solution.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said that the bus station decision was taken keeping in mind the wishes of the people.

“We understand at the end of the day taxpayers’ money has to be used, but what we prefer is to make the people happy,” he said. “[This project] is a lesson learned.”

Hun Sen’s decision was emblematic of how the government is running the country, said Son Chhay, the chief whip of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party.

“People at the provincial level are incapable and should have tackled this at the provincial level,” he said, adding that sub-national officials were appointed by Hun Sen and the ruling party but often lacked the competency to take decisions that would benefit citizens.

Ou Virak, the founder of the Future Forum think tank, said the decision came as little surprise. Despite the fact that national elections are still two years off, he said, the ruling party has been nervous since the close-run result in 2013.

“[Hun Sen] will go for two or three days to the province and take these decisions, but it will not do much,” he predicted.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • Call for boycott of Angkor unacceptable

    Dear Editor, I wish to express my strong disagreement on the article published by Traveller for their website with the title Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid. Below is my opinion of the article. It is obviously free for the Traveller to

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Gov’t slams UN rapporteurs over Sokha trial statement

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN Office in Geneva deplored the statement of three UN special rapporteurs who claimed that Kem Sokha’s trial was “tainted” due to irregularities. The reaction

  • No power shortages next dry season, says energy minister

    Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem has assured the public that Cambodia will not suffer power shortages during the next dry season. Speaking on local TV on Tuesday, Sem projected a rise in power demand during 2020’s dry season – which starts in November and

  • Gov’t takes steps to lower logistics, transport costs

    With the threat of losing trade privileges in the EU drawing closer, the government is taking measures to reduce logistics and transportation costs to safeguard the Kingdom’s competitiveness. The EU is due to decide whether or not to withdraw the Kingdom’s trade privileges