Boeung Trabek vendors say they are regularly forced to pay rent for days they do not work
Vendors at the Boeung Trabek market rally against high rents on Monday.
NEARLY all of the 800 vendors at Boeung Trabek market confronted market chief Lay Kong Savuth Monday afternoon, saying that they have been forced to pay rent for days on which they did not set up shop.
"They are oppressing us," said vendor Yem Sambath. "If we don't come to do business one day, they will charge us double when we come back."
He said vendors pay 6,500 riels (US$1.57) each day for space in the market.
Lou Dina, another vendor, said the protesters would likely stage a demonstration in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality and take their case to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema if their concerns were not addressed.
Boeung Trabek market was formed late last year when officials cleared out vendors selling on the sidewalk near Tuol Tumpong market.
Vendor Srey Touch said the relocated vendors were promised free rent for three months but that they were forced to start paying rent after just one week.
"Now we would like to ask them not to charge us during our days off, especially when we go to visit our homeland during the Khmer New Year or P'chum Ben holidays," he said.
Kiri Roth, a representative of Lay Kong Savuth, dismissed the protest as insignificant, saying it had been orchestrated by "five or 10" agitators making false allegations.
"We have never charged them during a day off - not Khmer New Year, not Lunar New Year and not P'chum Ben," he said. He also said the vendors had not been asked to make rent payments during their first three months in the market. The market opened on November 30, 2008.