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Rice traders petitioning for border reopening

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The Prek Ansa corridor border crossing in Prey Tonle commune of Kampot’s Banteay Meas district. SUPPLIED

Rice traders petitioning for border reopening

Over 400 farmers and rice traders have requested that Kampot provincial governor Mao Thonin reopen the Prek Ansa corridor border crossing in Prey Tonle commune of Kampot’s Banteay Meas district to make it easier for them to sell rice to Vietnam.

They said they could sell their rice to Vietnamese buyers at nearly 900 riel ($0.20) per kilogramme and currently the local price is just 700 riel per kg.

Hou Nath, a rice trader from the area, told The Post on November 21 that 416 people who were mostly rice traders and farmers signed a petition with their thumbprints to submit to Thonin this week asking that the Prek Ansa corridor be opened again.

He said many of the people involved had come from the Banteay Meas and Kampong Trach districts to request the reopening of the corridor crossing which has been closed for a long time due to Covid-19.

According to Nath, thousands of people wanted the immediate reopening of the Prek Ansa corridor, but only a limited number of people chosen from different communes registered their thumbprints.

He said that with Prek Ansa closed, all rice has to be transported to the Ton Horn corridor in Prek Kroes commune in Kampong Trach district where people have to pay a tax of about 50,000 riel per tonne – making the income from selling rice there even lower than the local price.

“It is hard for them to sell rice at this price. The tax is too high. People are very hard up now because many Cambodian workers have been jobless for a long time [due to the pandemic],” he said.

Toy Sreyleak, a farmer who registered her thumbprint, told The Post on November 21 that if the Prek Ansa corridor is reopened it will be easy for farmers to transport their rice for sales and they will get a better price.

“If they reopen Prek Ansa corridor, the price of rice will be close to 900 riel per kg but now it is only 700 riel per kg. That is why all the people here want the provincial authorities to facilitate the reopening of the corridor,” he said.

Neither Thonin nor Chan Rith, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, could be reached for comment on November 21.

Banteay Meas district governor Muong Noeun said he had yet to receive information about the petition. But if people have officially made a request then it would depend on the provincial governor to address it because he as district governor had no power to do so.

“The Vietnamese side closed the border crossing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but this corridor was an illegal border crossing to begin with, though selling rice there was tolerated by the authorities on both sides. But we weren’t the ones who closed it,” he said.

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