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Sihanoukville beach vendors ordered out

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Beach vendors selling street foods in Sihanoukville on June 26. SUPPLIED

Sihanoukville beach vendors ordered out

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has ordered owners of all businesses set up on the town’s beaches without permission to cease and desist in their activities and remove all of their property including tables, chairs and kitchen set-ups by July 7.

This must be done in the interest of protecting the environment, upholding public order and maintaining the natural beauty of the beaches, according to Kheang Phearom, spokesman for the provincial hall.

“As we all know, in the past, the provincial administration has worked hard to improve the beauty of the coastal areas in Sihanoukville and to keep them open as public spaces that anyone can visit for free.

“But we have recently noticed that some beach vendors have been illegally installing kiosks, tables, chairs and cooking equipment like stoves on the beaches and on the adjacent sidewalks, which causes disorder and affects the beauty of Cambodia’s coastal landscape,” Phearom told The Post.

He said authorities have frequently conducted educational outreach efforts on this issue but they haven’t apparently been effective.

“Thus, in order to uphold public order and preserve the aesthetic beauty of our beaches, we have set a deadline of July 7 for all mobile vendors doing business on or near the public beaches to dismantle their operations and relocate,” Phearom said.

According to the announcement, all of the mobile vendors in question have long been informed that the beaches in Sihanoukville are for the enjoyment of the general public as places to relax or go swimming and they are not meant to be treated as some kind of special economic zone for irresponsible and anarchic businesses.

“We hope that all mobile vendors will work together to implement these new guidelines,” said Phearom. “In cases where businesses continue to operate and do not follow our instructions, the authorities will implement administrative measures and seize all of the property on the beach belonging to those businesses and it will not be returned to them.”

Meas Ban, 40, currently sells drinks, papaya salad and other food items on Ariston or Ochheuteal II Beach, said he estimates that there are more than 100 poor families who come to sell food or drinks there in order to make some money to support themselves.

He said that in the past, officials just instructed vendors to dump their rubbish properly and to maintain proper hygiene and a clean environment.

“Whenever the authorities have had guidance for us, we’ve followed it,” he said. “But we see that out of more than 100 vendor families doing business here there are really only three or four of them that continue to operate until late at night and aren’t removing their things.

“If the city administration won’t let us set up our tables and chairs on the beaches, we will have to do business out of our trailer, because if they won’t allow us to sell there anymore then we cannot oppose them,” he said.

Lim Pheatrey, who is in charge of Public Administration, said this notice is only for the beach areas in Sihanoukville as authorities will not allow these spaces to be taken over by hordes of vendors because they are public beaches for citizens and the general public come visit for free and without being hassled by salesmen or obstructed by their ad-hoc places of business.

“These beaches do not belong to mobile vendors and they’ve never been given permission to set up all of those tables and chairs. In the past, the vendors even presumed to try and take ownership of the locations of their businesses, when in fact the beaches are all public property for residents and tourists to freely access,” he said.

He said that when these vendors set up their stalls on the beaches it results in a loss of public order and the scattering of garbage all over the place, which degrades the natural beauty of this area long known for having some of the cleanest beaches in the world.

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