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Sidewalk vendors face eviction

Sidewalk vendors face eviction

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Roadside stalls spill out across Street 271 on Monday.

Crackdown to reduce traffic congestion is slated to begin in two weeks.

OVER the next two weeks, Phnom Penh municipal authorities say they will attempt to raise awareness of a ban on sidewalk vendors in the run-up to more stringent enforcement of this provision of the Land Traffic Law.

In a meeting of around 400 government officials at City Hall on Monday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said that businesses and vendors who operate on city sidewalks must be informed of the law, so that they have a chance to vacate in an orderly fashion.

Following through on an August 17 directive from Interior Minister Sar Kheng, municipal authorities are to begin enforcing the ban on sidewalk vendors in two weeks' time, beginning with main boulevards such as Monivong, Mao Tse-tung and Kampuchea Krom.

"We are targeting big businesses along the boulevards first. I do not want ordinary people to complain that we are targeting only them," Kep Chuktema said.

Businesses who do not comply with the order will be subject to "administrative measures or legal action", the governor said, though he did not mention specific penalties.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said Monday that authorities were still deciding how best to inform sidewalk vendors of the ban, which is aimed at reducing traffic congestion.

At the meeting, Kep Chuktema suggested that vehicles equipped with loudspeakers drive through neighborhoods playing the message: "Please do not run businesses on the sidewalk. Good people must respect the law."

Widespread enforcement
The focus on sidewalk vendors comes less than a month after officials ramped up enforcement of other aspects of the Land Traffic Law.

Authorities announced last week that they had temporarily impounded more than 60,000 vehicles, the vast majority of them motorbikes, the drivers of which had been found to be in violation of the law.

That enforcement effort, implemented with an eye towards improving traffic safety rather that reducing congestion, targeted vehicles that lacked licence plates and mirrors as well as motorbike drivers who were not wearing helmets.

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