Vendors who had stalls in the old market that was gutted by fire are up in arms, saying the new market is filthy and the new stalls are too small
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
File photo shows workers beginning to rebuild Sihanoukville’s Phsar Leu market after it was gutted by fire in January.
VENDORS at Phsar Leu market in Sihanoukville, which resumed operations on October 13 after being gutted by fire earlier this year, say they have not been able to reopen their stalls because they are still under construction.
Chom Srey Sros, a perfume vendor, said ongoing building has made it impossible for her to return to her stall, which she said is fouled up by construction debris.
"Dirt is blowing everywhere in the market," she said.
"We cannot go back yet," she added.
Many vendors have also been complaining about the size and location of their new stalls.
"We could not choose our old stall location. Now my stall is smaller, and it will be difficult to get my clients back because they won't know where my new stall is," Chom Srey Sros said.
Hau Leang, a rice seller, said that some vendors have refused to return to the market due to the smaller size of the stalls.
"We complained to the authorities about the stall size many times but without result because the authorities already had a model for stalls for everyone," she said, adding that her new stall is only two metres by two metres while her old stall was double that size.
Phsar Leu market burned in January, with thousands of vendors losing entire stocks of goods in the inferno.
Chom Srey Sros said she lost around US$7,000 worth of products, and every vendor had to pay between US$700 and US$1,000 for the construction of a new stall.
Kong Samoeun, governor of Mittapheap district in Sihanoukville, told the Post by telephone Thursday that the stalls have been designed following an agreement with the vendors.
"We have followed the order of vendors," he said.
"Since the reopening on October 13, I have seen a small number of vendors opening their stalls again," he said.
"We know there is still a lot to be done. The market has not been finished yet so the vendors have to wait."
According to Kong Samoeun, Prime Minister Hun Sen contributed US$500,000 to rebuild the market's roof, and the municipality paid approximately the same amount to renovate the market's infrastructure.