The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration will take steps next week to dismantle vendors’ stalls along Otres Beach in the province’s Commune I, Stung Hav district.
The stall owners, who have been making a living there for some 20 years had earlier asked the provincial governor for a suitable venue in exchange for their relocation. However they claim they had not received any response.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum said on Wednesday that the provincial administration’s letter dated December 4, last year, which said the stalls would be dismantled in line with maintaining the beauty and order at Ochheuteal and Otres beaches is ongoing.
“As a result, the provincial governor has handed over the work to the Preah Sihanouk district administration to implement. The stall dismantlement may be carried out next week.
“A few days ago, the stall owners protested at their locations regarding the dismantling of their stalls. But we had already given them warnings and a week to dismantle their stalls. But until now, they had done nothing,” Phearum said.
Yin Srey Hak, who has a food stall at Otres beach, said there were 62 stalls along it, but the owners disagreed with the provincial authority’s order to dismantle them and are demanding that provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun provide a solution.
“We have filed petitions to Chamroeun three times, but the provincial administration has not responded to us.
“Wednesday (January 1) was the deadline and the first day that the provincial administration said it will start to dismantle our stalls. We are preparing petitions to submit to the national level, and so far we have no solution,” she said.
Ek Vithean, a stall owner who has been running his stall on Otres beach for 21 years, urged Chamroeun to help the vendors who have had stalls there for many years.
“Our objective is to have the provincial administration keep our stalls at the same place, and just adjust them as the provincial administration wants to do. But they should not dismantle our stalls. No matter what they do, we will struggle to the end because these stalls are our pot of rice and our lives,” he said.
Rights group Adhoc Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator Cheap Sotheary said the stall owners had protested against the provincial administration in regards to the dismantlement and sought to meet with the provincial governor for a solution.
“They tried to reach the provincial administration officials for a solution, but they did not meet anyone. Their intention was to continue selling at the beach. If the provincial administration intends to improve the stalls, the vendors will participate in the spirit of cooperation with the provincial administrators,” she said.