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Kep vendors rally against beach resort

Kep vendors rally against beach resort

Kep vendors angered over a planned resort project have appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to protect their livelihoods, which they say are being threatened by the multimillion-dollar development which is expected to transform the tiny seaside town.

About 40 vendors, all of whom sell snacks on Kep's beachside, traveled to Phnom Penh on June 9 to ask for compensation, or to be relocated away from the area where the developer, OCCAM, intends to put its $2-million resort.

The company plans to build hotels, a playground and a park along 100 meters of beach in front of municipal hall.

"We met the premier's representative and he promised to help us. Now we wait to see the solution," said one of the vendors.

The vendors said they fear being banned from the beach or of being forced to rent expensive shop stalls by the resort.

"We filed a request with Kep municipal officials but they ignored us so we decided to travel to Phnom Penh to petition the premier," said another vendor, Chev Kunthoeun, adding that police had tried to stop them but that they had split up into several groups to avoid detection.

Kep is one of the towns included in the government's K-4 development plan which officials hope will turn Cambodia's entire coast into a key tourist and business destination.

Prum Chamroeun, the chief of cabinet in Kep municipality, told the Post that a majority of the beach vendors were happy with the project and that the "few" who opposed it were motivated by greed.

"We are not evicting them; they can come back and sell their goods in a better, more modern environment when the project is finished," she said.

Municipal Governor Has Sareth said negotiations with the company were yet to be finalized.

"I don't know why the vendors are opposed to the project because the plan is yet to be unveiled," Sareth said.